1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large egg yolks (32 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or colored sugars
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) apart.
Bake cookies for about 11 - 14 minutes 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.
Makes about 30-35 cookies.
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 sugars.
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 after taste.
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.