Spritz Cookies, also known as
Swedish Butter Cookies or Pressed Butter Cookies, are a very popular Christmas
cookie, not only in Scandinavia, but also here in North America. They have a
lovely sweet and buttery vanilla flavor with a texture that is tender crisp. As their
name implies, "Spritz" is German for "spritzen" meaning "to squirt", which is
exactly what is done with this cookie dough. By that I mean we make these
cookies using a cookie press (gun). This device has a cylindrical barrel with an easy-to-squeeze trigger
or press, that
"squirts" the soft dough through a decorative template giving us all sorts of
wonderful looking cookies. You can make wreaths, flowers, trees, rosettes, stars,
and stripes, to name a few. And while they are delicious plain, they look so
pretty when decorated with candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or
Spritz Cookies contain only
a few ingredients, butter, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, and flour. Some
recipes include baking powder, but I find that the cookies maintain their
shape better without it. This cookie needs a good unsalted butter and
pure vanilla extract (if you want an almond flavor you could add a
little pure almond extract). When buying vanilla extract make sure that it's
labeled "pure", and stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla
extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla and leave a bitter
When you mix the Spritz
dough it is simply a matter of creaming the butter with the sugar, beating
in the vanilla extract and egg yolks, and then the flour. The dough needs
to be of the right consistency. You want it soft enough so it pushes
easily through the cookie press, but not so soft that the shape is not
defined. If you find it too soft, then refrigerate the dough for about 15
to 30 minutes. Also, I find it best not to use parchment paper on your
baking sheets. The cookies adhere better to a buttered baking sheet that
has been chilled in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. And if you
do not own a cookie press, you can make these cookies using a pastry bag
fitted with an open star tip. Enjoy.
Spritz Cookies: Preheat
your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter two baking sheets and place
them in the refrigerator to chill while you make the batter.
In the bowl of your
electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar
until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat
until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add
the flour and salt and beat until you have a well mixed dough.
To Press Cookies: Scrape
some of the dough into your cookie press that has been fitted with a decorative
plate (follow manufacturer's instructions). Hold the cookie press perpendicular
to your baking sheet, and press out the cookies. (If you find the dough is too soft, because the shape of
the cookies is not clearly defined, then chill the dough.) Continue to press out
the cookies, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. If desired, decorate the cookies with
pieces of candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or colored sugars.
To Pipe Cookies: Have
ready a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) diameter open star tip. Fill the
pastry bag about half full, twist the end of the bag to close, and pipe rosettes or stars by holding the pastry bag perpendicular to
your baking baking sheet, with the tip almost touching the sheet. Squeeze the
pastry bag firmly and evenly without moving it until the shape is the desired
size. Stop squeezing and push the pastry bag down a little and then lift the
pastry bag straight up. Continue to pipe cookies, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm)
Bake cookies for about 11 - 14
or just until the edges of the cookies are barely tinged with brown. Remove from
oven and gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. In a
covered container, these
cookies will keep at room temperature for about 10 days or they can be frozen
for several months.
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