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Reviving a Family Holiday Tradition
 

My husband Joe always looks forward to Christmas cookies, and usually bakes four kinds each year. He doesn’t make spritz cookies, however, even though they are his favorite. That’s his mom’s job, but the last few years she hasn’t made spritz. When I saw the Best Ever Spritz recipe on the site, I thought it was time to revive the tradition. Grandma Lucy came over with her spritzing equipment and helped me through my first time making spritz.
Making the dough is incredibly easy. You just put all the ingredients except the flour into the mixing bowl.

I also added about 1 teaspoon ground cardamom seed. The recipe includes some variations that looked fun, but I decided to improvise and simply added my favorite spice—grinding the cardamom right into the bowl.

After a minute or two, the mixture will be creamy.

All that is left is to add the flour …

… and mix it in.

Remember to scoop the flour with a spoon into the measuring cup and level with the back of a butter knife. This helps ensure that your measurement is accurate. Scooping into the bag with the measuring cup packs in too much flour and can make cookies dry.

Now that the dough is ready, pull out your spritzing press and choose the templates. The recipe makes 5 dozen cookies, so you may want to use a few designs. Grandma Lucy’s press was a family treasure!

This is a good time to get the sprinkles and sugars ready. We decided to experiment a little and try a few things. We mixed some white and dark chocolate sprinkles, and also a couple blue sugars and a little blue "ball" sprinkle. We also put some red and green sugars, and some white cake sparkles into separate tiny bowls.

To make the cookies, follow the directions for your press and fit the first template into the top. Then, Grandma Lucy recommends dividing the dough in fourths. If the dough seems too soft, wrap it in plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 15 or 20 minutes. Remember, though, not to let the dough get too hard or it will be too difficult to use in the press. This is a good time to heat the oven to 350°F.

While you are working with the first piece of dough, wrap the other pieces in plastic food wrap and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to put them into the press. Form the first piece into an oblong ball and place it into the bottom of the press.

Then, follow the directions on your press to get ready to make cookies. For our model, we simply press the plunger into the canister and screw the handle until it presses into the dough.

Keep twisting (or whatever your press needs) until you see dough peeking through the template.

To make the cookies, simply place the press onto the cookie sheet and press out enough dough that you can look down and see it squishing into the cookie sheet. Then, lift the press straight up and the cookie should stay on the sheet. Again, follow any specific directions for your press. If the cookies are not coming off, try pressing out more dough. If that doesn’t work, the dough may be too hard, so let it soften for 10 minutes and try again.

Just experiment and pretty soon you will have the technique down. My first couple cookies were a little spread out, indicating I used a bit too much dough.

We took turns and, if a cookie didn’t work right, we just scraped it up and added it to the other dough for later. When you finish the first batch of dough, just switch out the template if you like and continue with the second fourth of the dough.

We decorated this first sheet of cookies by shaking the mixed blue sprinkles onto the wreaths …

… and sprinkling the trees with green sugar.

An empty spice bottle with a shaker top is good to use for sprinkling the sugars. But, shaking off the spoon worked fine, too. Once our first cookies were in the oven, we pressed out some camels and some spirals. The camel was the most difficult template to work with, but we persisted anyway because we knew the kids would love camel cookies. We sprinkled some of the cookies, but left some others plain for decorating after cooling.

After 6 minutes, check the cookies. If you see any browning on the edges, pull them out. Otherwise, bake them for another minute or two, or until they just begin to brown on the edges. These cookies will be very light, but this can vary based on the cookie sheet you use. If you have a dark cookie sheet, the cookies will brown more than on a light sheet.

Remove the cookies to a cooling rack right away.

For the cookies that weren’t sprinkled before they were baked, we tried a technique we heard about in the Test Kitchens. We brushed the cooled cookies with light corn syrup and then added the sprinkles.

Here’s a side-by-side visual comparison of the camels with baked in sprinkles vs. the corn syrup technique. The two sample cookies have a very different look! The cookies sprinkled after cooling were nice because the sprinkles hadn’t spread out like the others. We thought they tasted better, too. Despite our preference, we agreed that sprinkling before baking was less time-intensive and also produced a tasty result. Hard to go wrong either way!

We found the same thing when sprinkling sugars with the corn syrup method. The sugar was more distinct and more true red on the cooled version than the baked-in version. Again, they all tasted fantastic. Still, it was a fun experiment to try both methods.

We also brushed a bit of corn syrup on the green-sugared tree cookies and sprinkled on some "snowy" white cake sprinkles.

That produced a fun result we felt was worth the extra time, especially for gifts or holiday parties!

Snowy Christmas trees! We packed up most of the cookies into a plastic container and put them into the freezer for the holidays. But before we did that, we saved a few for the kids and picked out a special assortment for Joe.

These cookies brought back fond memories, and we dusted off the cookie spritzer for another season. If you love spritz cookies but haven’t had them in a while, you should definitely try these Best Ever Spritz cookies. Or maybe you didn’t grow up with spritz cookies but want to start a new tradition. The dough is so easy, and cookie decorating is a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Let me know if you bake them by leaving a comment on this post, or rating the recipe!

Check back in a few days when Tami will share a hearty breakfast recipe.

Liz is paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.

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• Comments •

Kathy: Try using Steen's Pure Cane Syrup instead of the corn syrup. I am thinking it might be a good substitution. I live in Michigan and have to order it off line, but it makes a great pecan pie, so it is worth the effort. If I get to this recipe soon, I will post back.

Posted Dec 01 2011 by Michelle

What a great web site. Wish I had this when I was first starting out. Its great for everyone.

Posted Nov 29 2011 by Carolyn

Oh My Goodness. I have one of these cookie presses somewhere in a cabinet., with all the same templates. I haven't made these cookies in years but this article has inspired me to correct that immediately. Thanks for the great pictures.

Posted Nov 28 2011 by Sharo
author_photo
Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Liz

Sharon, hooray! I'd love to hear how the recipe works for you after all this time.
Posted November 30, 2011

I make spritz cookies every year but have a hard time getting nice shape cookies. Could be my impatience but it's still hard to get nice ones. Not sure I would want to brush them with corn syrup, considering its supposed to be so bad for you. It's nice to see the sprinkles so clearly though. I wonder if there would be something else that could be brushed on instead. Thanks for this article. I really appreciate how descriptive it is. I will for sure be trying this recipe and all the tips included!! Thanks Liz and Grandma Lucy!! :)

Posted Nov 28 2011 by Kathy
author_photo
Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Liz

Kathy, To get the best shape, just experiment with different temperatures of your dough. Too firm and it's hard to press out and doesn't want to come off the template; too soft and it mushes out and the distinct shape is lost. Somewhere in between you will find the best looking cookies. For decorating with corn syrup, it may help you to know that the amount needed is very small. I applied it sparingly, not feeling a need to cover the entire cookie; using just enough to capture sprinkles on the highlights of the shapes. I felt it was a worthwhile technique to try and share. If I am making cookies for gifts, I think I would do it. For my family holiday celebration, I think the sprinkling before baking is plenty wonderful!
Posted November 30, 2011

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