Make sure your butter has warmed to room temperature before making this recipe. It matters a lot!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 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 with 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 at 350°F 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.