I remember so vividly making spritz cookies (spritzgebäck.) at Christmas every year. I loved making the tree shaped ones, as well as the stars. We always made trees, stars, wreaths, and camels. And always used food coloring — red, green, yellow, and sprinkled them with sugar or decoration. What I especially remember was eating the trees — one little tree ‘section’ at a time, until all that was left was the very tip, where there was a shiny candy “ornament”.
I always enjoyed making spritz cookies, because of the many different shapes that were possible – mostly because I really dislike making rolled out cookies — they take way too long and you are never finished when they come out of the oven — you have to decorate every single one. Spritz cookies, on the other hand, are yummy tasty, shaped nicely, and handled minimally. A bonus for Christmas time, imo.
There are quite a lot of cookie presses on the market — everything from electric and battery operated, to hand crank, press, gun, and screw extruders. I’m most familiar with the type shown here to the left. The bottom twists off so you can change the shapes easily, and fill quickly. It’s easy to clean, doesn’t have a ton of moving parts, and if the one I have is indication of the length of time these last, mine is just about 50 years old (my Gram gave it to me about 12 years ago). Take a look in your mother/aunt/grandmothers cabinets, and you may find one similar to this. I’ve collected about 40 different shaped disks over the years, so you may find a fun assortment.
Using a old press such as this is simple, but needs a good bit of wrist movement. Choose the shape you’d like to make, and then fill the cookie press 2/3’rds full, packing the dough. Insert the screw and tighten. Place the press on the cookie sheet, and twist one full twist around, and then slightly backwards. Lift, and then repeat until you’ve filled the cookie sheet. If the dough is too soft (warm), it will stick. Put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes (20 or so), and then start again, (careful – if the dough is too cold, it won’t extrude.) Press the cookies onto a cool cookie sheet, not one just out of the oven.
Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies (Spritzgeback)
1 cup butter, softened
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg (yolk only)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Oven should be set to 350F
Mix butter and cream cheese together well. Add sugar, and mix until fluffy. Add egg yolks, vanilla and lemon peel. Mix well and then gradually add in the flour and salt.
Using a cookie press, press the cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned. If you don’t use parchment, just use an ungreased cookie sheet.
Allow to cool about 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet, and then remove and cool completely. These will keep fine in a tightly sealed container or bag, and freeze wonderfully.