By the time you read this blog, two of my grandchildren will have used some very special tools in my kitchen to create delicious spritz cookies. Even better, we will have captured the afternoon’s activities on film, in order to create a pilot for television. The TV Truck guys will have moved their tools into my kitchen, and the seven-member crew will have worked hard filming, recording, and editing.
All of my grandchildren have made spritz cookies with me. I am sure they love the idea of making these cookies, partly, because I refer to my cookie press as my cookie gun. Most children’s hands are strong enough to squeeze cookies onto a pan, using a press. Enthusiasm trumps perfection, when making these cookies. It’s important to shop around for the perfect press for your needs. We tried eight different presses, and one was a clear favourite.
All spritz cookies are made from buttery dough consisting of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. The dough is forced through a cylinder with a calibrated plunger of some type. The dough emerges onto the pan in a special shape, because it is squeezed through a patterned disk at the end of the cylinder. There are dozens of spritz recipes and many types of cookie presses. Families often pass recipes and presses from one generation to the next.
The word spritz seems to have come from the German word spritzen, meaning to spray or squirt. In Germany, the popular Christmas confection called Spritzgebäck is made using a cookie press. Although the Germans have been credited with inventing the cookie press, there is some evidence indicating that the Scandinavians might have been the originators. A little cookie-history controversy is always fun. Food historians seem to agree that the cookie press originated in the 16th Century. I would be interested to know what the inventor was searching for when he or she designed the cookie press. Did he visualize uniform, visually appealing cookies, or was there some thought of mass production? One thing is for certain; if you ever need to hastily produce a pile of treats, the cookie press allows you to do this in under an hour.
Every few decades, the idea of pressing cookies resurges. The Five Roses Cookbook, redesigned and printed in the early sixties, contains two recipes for spritz cookies. Old cookbooks, produced by local ladies’ groups, can provide spritz recipes. Today, on the Internet, you will find spritz cookie recipes including ingredients such as pumpkin, ginger, chocolate, or cheese. I plan to try some savoury spritz cookies over the summer, and I’ll report my results.
Every press comes with a booklet of recipes. This is true, even for the press we tried which dates back to the 1940s. I look for presses with narrower cylinders, because they produce small, crisp cookies. In antique stores, and at garage sales, you will sometimes find a press, in the manufacturer’s box, with recipes, and an original price sticker, often as low as seventy-nine cents.
Using a cookie press, with your children and grandchildren, can be the start of a memorable afternoon. Make the dough (no chilling required), press and bake the cookies, dust them with icing sugar, and then have a tea party. Let the children serve, using your finest dishes, teapots, and teaspoons. They can practise pouring from various teapots, and once they have eaten their fill of cookies, they can wrap some to give to others. Encourage the use of good manners and fabulous conversation, and above all, have fun!
I am including my spritz cookie recipe, which was passed down from my girlfriend’s mom, to her, and from me to my daughters, and now to you.
Marion’s Mom’s Spritz Cookies
(Each of my grandchildren, while still preschool age, made these cookies.)
1 cup of butter
1 cup of white sugar
1½ teaspoons of vanilla
2 eggs, unbeaten
3 cups of flour
¼ teaspoon of salt
Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and beat well.
Add flour and salt and mix until blended.
Press through a cookie maker onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies at 375°F for 10 to12 minutes.
Cooking time varies with the type of pan and oven used. Also, cookie presses produce varying sizes of cookies, requiring different cooking times. Watch them carefully.
Leave the cookies on the pan for three minutes after removing them from the oven. Then place them on a wire cooling rack. Sprinkle the cookies with icing sugar. These cookies can be frozen, but they keep well in a tin for a week. After a week, the tin is usually empty.
A serving of these delightful treats should be about one ounce, but “the boy” from the Get a Bigger Wagon stories thinks that is completely inadequate.
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