Archive for December, 2015

Christmas Spritz

December 3, 2015
Spritz on baking sheet

Spritz on baking sheet

There’s still time to open your home bakeshop. These early weeks of December mark the best time for Christmas butter cookies. Always better after a week or two in the tin and stored in a cool place, the flavors meld magically.

Every culture seems to have a favorite cookie for the winter holiday season, and most are rich with butter, nuts, or chocolate. Cookie dough is usually a simple mix and offers a family project, if the kids don’t eat too much raw dough and end up with tummy aches. It’s great to share homemade cookies with guests or to savor with afternoon coffee. Here’s one of those perfect little cakes: crisp, fragrant, not too sweet—a good keeper.

Spritz baked

Spritz baked

Spritz is a traditional Scandinavian favorite. Its name comes from its being squirted out. Often made with a cookie press, these butter biscuits appear in various designs. After years of struggling with cookie presses, I say ditch the press and go back to the professional baker’s choice: the pastry bag. With the pastry bag, you have more control, speed, and far less clean up. Nowadays large plastic piping bags are a godsend. The older cloth bags pulled butter from the dough, but the plastic bag keeps the dough moist, is easy to rinse in hot water, and dries quickly. Choose a basic large metal fluted or star tip and take care when you begin not to overfill the bag. A single tip may not give you a variety of shapes, but when this Spritz is among many on your cookie trays, its classic shape is perfect. Everyone will want some.

Spritz

8 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature

¼ teaspoon salt

3½ oz. granulated sugar (½ cup)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon almond extract

8 oz. all purpose flour (1¾ cups)

1 oz. cornstarch (¼ cup)

Weigh ingredients on an accurate kitchen scale for the best results.

Before mixing cookie dough have four sheet pans ready. Pans do not have to be lined or greased since pressed cookie dough sticks best to a clean, dry baking sheet.

Cream the butter with salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. These cookies may also be mixed by hand with a strong arm and a heavy bowl. When the butter is soft and fluffy, add egg, milk, and flavorings. Beat well. Remove bowl from mixer and sift over flour and cornstarch. Blend flour mixture in your hand using a rubber spatula. The dough should now be soft enough to pipe. If it seems too stiff, add another tablespoon of milk. Put one third of the dough into the plastic bag with a fluted tip, squeeze it all toward the tip, twist the bag above the dough (see photo), and aim the tip straight down on the baking sheet. Twist the bag slightly until a cookie oozes out. Lift the bag straight up and proceed. Pipe approximately 25 cookies onto a sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of granulated sugar.

The cookies may be baked immediately, but for a better texture allow the pressed shapes to stand on the sheets an hour or two in a cool place before baking. (This step relaxes the flour, allows absorption of liquid, and makes a tender cookie.) Bake cookies in a preheated 350° oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool cookies thoroughly before storing in a wax paper–lined airtight tin or plastic box. Store at least a week in a cool place before serving. Makes about 100, or 6-8 dozen, depending on size.

Mary Jo's Cookbook available on Amazon

Mary Jo’s Cookbook available on Amazon

 

 

 

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