Nibble: Butter Spritz Cookies
My mother has always been a very giving woman. She shares her birthday (incidentally, today) with my sister and my Aunt Sue. She shares her infinite wisdom with me on a more-than-regular basis. She's even, on occasion, been known to share her wine. Most recently, in a roundabout way, she shared with me her recipe for cookie-press Buttery Spritz Cookies, and they're my new favorite thing to bake.
When Mom's mother, Grandma Betty passed away earlier this year, Mom asked if there was anything of hers that I wanted. Grandma had always had wonderful taste in jewelry and home decor, and there were plenty of trinkets to choose from. I wandered through the half of my parents' house where Grandma had spent her last handful of years. Everything echoed with her memory, but nothing jumped out and said, "Take me, take me!"
Until I reached her cookbook shelf. Now it's no secret that I live an alternate life deep within the pages of the books I hoard, er, collect. As soon as I saw the red gingham cover of the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book binder, I knew it was meant to be mine. The memories all swelled back up at once, the days of holiday baking I had spent with my mother, hunched over the same volume. It must have been the gift of the rite of passage into womanhood for generations past: almost every happy kitchen memory I have with my mother or Grandma Betty from childhood can be traced in some way back to those magical pages. (Mimi was less about the recipe and more about the feel of the baking.)
I pulled it from the shelf and hugged it close and promised myself it wouldn't just sit gathering dust. Mom, who has a copy of her own, willingly shared Grandma Betty's with me. Fast forward to this past weekend, when James wanted cookies and I wanted a new kitchen gadget and we had a coupon for the OXO Good Grips Cookie Press at Bed Bath and Beyond. "Do you have a recipe?" James asked tentatively, I'm sure picturing this shiny new toy going the way of my mini-pie maker, which has not seen the light of day since I failed to read a recipe and stashed it in a cupboard, banished for a hundred years because it's harder to use than I thought it would be.
"Of course I do," I scoffed. I didn't, of course, having never made them before. But he didn't call my bluff. I'd totally find one. I knew right where to look.
I tried a couple online sources, one that called for powdered sugar instead of regular sugar (all together now: yuck!) and another that called for butter-flavored shortening (which seemed a bit extreme). I finally wandered over to my cookbook shelf and there it was, winking back at me, that red and white gingham spine. "Oh, stop fussing," I heard Grandma Betty's voice sing in the back of my mind. "You have everything you need right here. Now go put on some lipstick." (Always, always with the lipstick.)
I made some modifications (as I'm want to do) including taking a couple ingredients off the list (I didn't have them in my pantry) and scaling some things up, and some things back. The cookies came together incredibly simply. My version of the recipe calls for all of six ingredients and the cookie press was a dream to use. Literally, just press, lift. Press, lift. Easy peasy. I kept waiting for it to stick, or to get frustrating, or to get messy, and it never did.
Truth be told, the hardest part of making Butter Spritz Cookies turned out to be not eating all the batter before I had a chance to turn it into cookies.
Butter Spritz Cookies inspired by the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book Spritz Cookie Recipe (Yields approx. 60, depending on how much batter you eat.)
I skipped the almond extract called for in some versions I saw, because I like the clean flavor of uninterrupted vanilla. If you're a fan, reduce vanilla to 1 1/2 tsp. and add 1/2 tsp. almond extract. I also prefer sanding sugars to sprinkles, as it's less inclined to melt all over my pans. Regardles sof whether you opt for ungreased cookie sheets or Silpat-lined cookie sheets, rinse and wipe away the extra butter between batches. I kept a damp towel handy for this specific task and it was a breeze to keep things tidy.
- 2 sticks butter (I use salted because I'm a pariah)
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla (plus a scraped bean, if you have one laying around)
- 1 lg. egg
- 2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
Preheat your oven to 350*F. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until like and fluffy. (Resist the urge to eat this entire bowl of awesome yummy nom noms.) Add the vanilla and the egg and mix on med-low speed until just incorporated. (Don't worry if it seems to separate a little, you're about to fix that.)
Gently whisk your flour and baking powder together. Add dry ingredients slowly to butter mixture, mix until combined. Using a cookie press, press cookies onto either ungreased cookie sheets or Silpat-lined cookie sheets. Top with sprinkles or sanding sugars of preference. Bake until firm but not browning, 8-10 minutes depending on how spunky your oven gets. Cool on a wire rack.
What's your favorite cookie?