Who knew the boy could bake? Here’s another classic Christmas cookie from Hank. Enjoy! ~Elise
This cookie is my other favorite Christmas cookie, along with walnut snowballs. I am sure my mum made all kinds of Christmas cookies over the years, but none were as memorable as these two. Spritz, she called them, and little did I know that this was far more than a pet name she had for the cookie.
Flash forward 20 years, and here I am, looking to make these cookies again. I asked mum for her recipe and she gave it to me, and I then began researching this cookie. Wow. I had no idea spritz was one of the most popular cookies in all Cookiedom, made in thousands of variations of shape, ingredient and garnish.
I was blown away, but I needed to make mum’s version, which is a very simple butter cookie with a little vanilla added, topped with red or green colored sugar or a piece of walnut. Only thing was, mum warned, I’d need a cookie press.
Huh. I remember hers, a brass thing that looked like a fancy caulking gun. I reckoned I could do the same with a piping bag and a star tip. Wrong. Epic fail. So we went out and bought a cookie press, and then found out that using one requires practice and skill. After much fiddling, I learned to make decent enough cookies, but I’m certainly no expert.
So here it is: My mum’s spritz recipe. Simple, archaic—no mixer needed, just use your hands—but light, rich and full of memories. Surely there must be some of you out there who make spritz, right? How are yours different?
Make sure your butter has warmed to room temperature before making this recipe. It matters a lot!
- 2 cups all-purpose or cake flour
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small cubes
- Colored sugar
- Pieces of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, etc)
- Maraschino cherries
- Powdered sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then sprinkle over the vanilla extract. Crack the egg into the center of the bowl and then dot the flour mixture with the pieces of butter. Mix everything together with your clean hands until you get a dough. Try not to knead it too much, as you will then make tough cookies. You just want everything to come together cohesively.
2 You will need a cookie press to make traditional spritz. Put on the die of your choice—I like a star or snowflake pattern—then load the press with the dough. Ratchet out the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. This takes practice, so be prepared to mess a bunch up at first. Just return the not-so-good ones back to the dough ball and run it through again. Some people like larger cookies that require 2-3 cranks, others just one; this makes a dainty cookie. My mum sometimes twisted her wrist a little when making these to get a swirly pattern going on.
3 Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. As they bake, get your garnish of choice ready, because you will need to act fast once they come out of the oven. As soon as the cookies are done—they will not brown, so don't wait for that to happen—take the cookies out and garnish them. My favorite toppings are colored sugar and pieces of walnut stuck in the center of a star pattern.
4 Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully move them to a rack. Let them cool completely before putting the cookies away. They freeze well.