Spritz Cookies are a delightful and beautiful cookie formed in a cookie press, which extrudes dough through a variety of cutout discs to make shaped cookies (think of the old-school Play-doh tools and you'll get the idea). While they're often served around Christmas, they are a traditional sugar cookie that can be enjoyed any time of year (and indeed, often cookie presses come with other seasonal designs, like flowers, crosses, or pumpkins).
This dough, based on a recipe that belonged to my grandmother, has a little bit of cream cheese, which gives it a slight tanginess. Plan to make all of the cookies immediately after mixing up the dough—don't store the dough in the refrigerator or it will dry out and be difficult to work with.
A note about cookie presses: There are several cookie press models available. Some have a hand crank while others are electric. They come with interchangeable discs that make different shapes. In many cases, you can change the discs while there is still dough loaded into the press, so that you can form different shapes without reloading the dough. It might take a few attempts to master how to form the cookies without them falling apart. so don't get frustrated!
- 1 cup shortening
- 3 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1 cup sugar (granulated)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the shortening and cream cheese well. Add the sugar gradually, and continue mixing until well-blended.
- Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla extract and almond extract.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt, stir to combine with a whisk. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture and mix with medium speed until a ball of dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
- Load the dough into a cookie press. Form the cookies onto an ungreased sheet pan. Decorate with colored sugar, sprinkles and other decorations.
- Bake the cookies at 350˚F for 6 to 8 minutes until the bottoms are lightly golden (do not let the tops of the cookies brown). Let the cookies cool about 2 minutes on the sheet pan before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool. These cookies freeze well, layered between sheets of parchment paper and packaged in a freezer-safe container
Note: To make chocolate spritz cookies, replace 1/4 of the all-purpose flour with 14/ cup of cocoa powder.