It's January, so what's up with a Christmas cookie recipe? It is traditional to associate Spritz with holiday cookie madness, but this batch of Spritz was more medicinal than festive. RL was hit with a nasty flu bug, lost all interest in food and did a Rip Van Winkle for over a week. The only food to tempt him turned out to be cookies, and only Spritz cookies would do. Myself, I typically turn to canned peaches or mashed potatoes when I'm in flu-recovery mode, but the man loves his Spritz cookies.
This cookie classic has been a favorite for generations and has countless variations; lemon spritz, orange spritz, chocolate spritz, cream cheese spritz... the list goes on. I used the oldest, butteriest recipe I could find, a simple one clipped long ago from Gourmet Magazine, rather than playing with a tempting, flavored version. Change can wait, wait until some time when food therapy isn't so important. But do check out some of the Spritz recipes on the Wilton site (link), or this fancy chocolate-dipped pistachio sprinkled Spritz from Epicurious (link).
I had to rummage around in the back of the baking drawer to find all of the parts for this old, lately ignored, manual cookie press. (Please note RL, there is a reason not to get carried away decluttering, cleaning out kitchen and galley drawers, and tossing out tools that aren't used too often!)
Of course you can make Spritz cookies by forming walnut-sized balls and flattening them with a fork until about 1/2-inch thick. But according to the husband, real Spritz cookies must be shaped with a cookie press, like he and his mother made them all those years ago. It was worth fiddling around with the old press, actually kind of fun, though a powered press would be heavenly if I made Spritz cookies very often. Considering how fast the cookies have disappeared, I might have to bake again soon. Oops, did I just admit publicly to eating w-a-y too many of these myself?!
Classic Spritz Cookies
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened but not melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter; beat in the sugar, a little at a time. Add the vanilla and the almond extract; beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy.
Add the egg and combine the mixture well. Add the salt and the flour mixture all at once and combine the dough well.
Use a cookie press and star disc to form cookie rounds (or choose other disc and shapes); arrange an inch or two inche apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake the cookies in a preheated moderate oven (350° F.) for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges, being careful not to overbake; transfer them with a spatula to racks to cool.
Store the cookies in airtight containers.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies, depending on shape and size.