Baked goods are an essential part of the holidays. Kristin's family makes these little Spritzer cookies most every year, and she has some fun stories about all the ways that these seemingly-simple cookies can go all wrong. We experienced one - our first attempt we made something more like Christmas Wafers than cookies. It was no good. This batch turned out great. We'll see if they last more than a day or two.
It's not Christmas without Christmas Cookies - nor can it be Christmas cookie season without swearing at the cookies that refuse to turn out. Thankfully, these are quick and easy to whip up, so if something goes terribly wrong, just try, try again.
Not too many ingredients here. You'll need flour, sugar, shortening, vanilla, almond extract, baking powder, and a single egg. Sprinkles and decorating sugar can jazz things up a bit, but aren't strictly necessary. But you don't really want boring, unsprinkled cookies, do you?
You'll also need one of these bad boys - a Spritzer machine. We found ours for about $10 at Target and it works great.
First, you'll need the always-exciting bowl of white powders. Combine the flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl and set aside for now.
The next several steps are much easier with a mixer of some sort. A hand mixer does the job, and of course a stand mixer could do it, too. First, combine your 1 1/2 cups of shortening with 3 tbsp of water and beat until its combined and fluffy - about 30 seconds should do it.
Now add all that other wet stuff: the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and the egg. Beat again until everything is combined and the texture resembles frosting.
Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix well until combined. This can take some time. The dough will be fairly dense.
Add some dough to your spritzer machine, and start pressing it into shapes onto ungreased cookie sheets. Ungreased is important, otherwise your shapes will refuse to stay shapely, or even to stay on the pan at all.
Some will be prettier than others. Some will refuse to come out of the machine entirely, or will be hideously deformed. Just toss these ugly cookies back in with the rest of the dough and press replacements until you're satisfied.
Cover liberally with whatever sorts of decorations you like. Be exuberant - make sure to spill more of those decorations onto the pan than you get onto the cookies. It's important.
Now bake them! They'll bake up very quickly - just about 6 minutes at 400 degrees. They'll look almost unchanged on top, but if you bake 'til they're brown then the poor cookies will be dead, dead, dead. Just the bottoms should be ever-so-slightly brown.
Make plenty of different shapes!
No really, make plenty. Cool on a wire rack - or on top of other cooling cookies.
Consider using some food coloring - Kristin was pretty proud of her little green trees. There's really no wrong way to decorate. Have fun!
Once you're done, make sure to try one of each shape and pick a favorite. An hour later, you'll doubt your choice, and have to test all over again. You should probably also test to see which tastes best dunked in coffee or cocoa. You know, for science. It's important.
Bake plenty, eat plenty, and even share if you're feeling particularly kindly. If you run out, just bake some more. They're worth it.
Recipe: Spritzer Cookies
Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 60 Cookies
- 3 1/2 cups Flour
- 1 1/2 cups Shortening (pref. butter flavor)
- 3 tbsp Water
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
- Optional - Decorating sugars and sprinkles
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour and baking powder.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening 30 seconds until fluffy. Add sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat again 60-90 seconds until combined and fluffy.
- Gradually add dry ingredients, beating until well-blended.
- Add dough to spritzer machine and press into shapes onto ungreased cookie sheets.
- Optional - Add decorating sugars and/or sprinkles before baking.
- Bake cookies 6-7 minutes at 400 degrees. Cookie bottoms should be barely brown.
- Cool on wire racks.