by Stephanie Zonis
About 5 dozen cookies
Spritz are traditional Christmas cookies in Scandinavian countries. They are simple butter cookies, shaped by putting the dough through a cookie press. Before trying this recipe, I hadn't used a cookie press in twenty years; the old one I grew up with was difficult to work with and worse to clean. Clearly, times have changed. I have a Kuhn Rikon Professional Cookie Press that I got at Williams-Sonoma, and it's a blast! It has a trigger mechanism that's easy to use, and most of it is dishwasher-safe. It comes with 20 shaping discs, so there's a shape for everyone.
Chocolate spritz are pretty and plain and crisp, with a not-too-sweet flavor. The only unfortunate aspect of these cookies is that they disappear with alarming speed. They can be stored airtight for a few days at room temperature (but not around me), or they can be frozen. I do not recommend mailing them, as they are prone to breaking. I have seen recipes stating that they can be decorated with colored sugars before baking, but I tried this and the sugars didn't show up well against the dark dough. You could decorate them with icing (sparingly) after they're baked and cooled, though. Incidentally, many recipes I've seen call for making these in a mixer, but I always make them by hand. These are good cookies to make if you have small helpers. Be sure to try the flavor variations below!
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sifted or strained unsweetened
Dutch process cocoa powder
1-1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
The instructions for the cookie press I have direct you to bake the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. I tried this, and it works, but you have to clean off the sheets between batches. I line my sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up. When I use the press, I "click" out one cookie with the trigger mechanism, then let the press stand for just a second in place. I hold the foil down on both sides of the press with one finger, then lift the press up. The cookie dough will stick to the foil, and may cause it to pucker slightly when you lift the press up, but it doesn't affect the cookies as far as I can tell. The above procedure sounds complicated, but I can "click" out a sheet full of cookies in a couple of minutes. Replace the foil after each sheet of cookies is baked.
Adjust rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with foil, shiny side up, or leave unprepared (or follow directions for your brand of cookie press).
In large bowl, combine softened butter, sugar, and salt. Cream thoroughly until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat in well, then add vanilla. Carefully stir in cocoa powder, then gradually add flour, mixing only until well-combined. Dough will be stiff.
Follow manufacturer's directions for loading cookie press, then press out 3 or 4 cookies onto one sheet--no more! These will be your "test" cookies. Bake for 11-12 minutes, just until they feel firm on top. Allow to stand for a few seconds on cookie sheet, then remove to cooling rack. Cool completely, then try one. The cookies should be crisp through, but not burnt. Adjust baking time if necessary.
Continue pressing out cookies onto prepared sheets, placing them close together (these barely spread at all). Remaining cookie dough can stand at room temperature, tightly covered, though you might want to chill it briefly if the room is warm.
Cool cookies completely before decorating or storing. Store airtight at room temperature for up to a few days, or freeze for longer storage (do not freeze cookies decorated after baking).
Stir any one of the following into the dough after adding the vanilla:
Copyright © 1998 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created December 1998
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