Hi to anyone out there that might stumble upon this. It’s been a while. I think I explained in my last post that I’ve been crazy busy with work and long commutes, etc. But I’m between contracts yet again and the holidays are upon us. My 6 year old wanted to make gingerbread cookies a couple of weeks ago, and last night I made spritz cookies as gifts for her teachers and before and after care teachers as well. I ended up comparing two recipes each for both styles of cookies and thought I’d share the results with you.
Everyone goes on and on about The Joy of Cooking and how it’s one of the best cookbooks EVER, so it was the first place I turned to for a gingerbread cookie recipe. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectations. The dough was dry and crumbly and would not come together. I compared it with a Betty Crocker recipe and it had only 1/4 vs 1/2 cup of butter plus it did not call for allspice. I melted the extra 1/4 cup of butter and added it to my dough to help it come together. It was still a bit too hard for my liking and a struggle to roll out. Once baked the texture was fine, but a little bland. I think it was missing the allspice that was included in the Betty Crocker recipe. On that note you can find that recipe here: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/gingerbread-cookies/92eccbd8-33d2-4f05-a09e-ea6722d67786
And on to the spritz cookies – I forgot to take the chicken out of the fridge so we had supper late, and started making the cookies late. Luckily, spritz cookies are super fast to make! No chilling the dough or struggling with rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes, you just put the dough in the canister and squeeze the trigger and the shape pops out! My daughter is strong enough now to squeeze it out herself, which was fun for both of us. The model press I have is a Wilton Preferred Press and some of the shapes worked better than others. I’m not sure if it was the machine or the dough but the snowmen wouldn’t really come together very well and the pumpkins just wouldn’t work. The tree, heart, and one of the flower shapes worked pretty well. The first recipe I used was from Betty Crocker as I had luck with the Big Red Book the last time. The cookies tasted good but not great – I could taste the flour a little. So the next morning I made some more on my own using the Cook’s Illustrated recipe and it was pretty much the same in texture but the flavour was delicious! Buttery, tender, and sweet with a pleasant vanilla flavour. Love it!
Ready in 1 hr. Makes 72 11/2 inch cookies
⦁ 1 large egg yolk
⦁ 1 tablespoon heavy cream
⦁ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⦁ 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (2 sticks)
⦁ 2⁄3 cup ⦁ sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
⦁ 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
⦁ 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 375°F In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla with a fork until combined; set aside.
2. In a standing mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer running at medium speed, add the yolk-cream mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually beat in the flour until combined. Scrape down the bowl and give a final stir with the rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain.
3. If using a cookie press to form the cookies, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fill the press; if using a pastry bag (see TECHNIQUE below). Press or pipe cookies onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet until just warm, 10 to 15 minutes; using a metal spatula, transfer them to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
4. FOR LEMON SPRITZ COOKIES: Follow the recipe for Spritz Cookies, adding 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the yolk-cream mixture in step 1 and adding 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest to the butter along with the sugar and salt in step 2.
5. FOR ALMOND SPRITZ COOKIES: Grind ½ cup sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons of the flour called for in Spritz Cookies in a food processor until powdery and evenly fine, about 1 minute; combine the almond mixture with the remaining flour. Follow the recipe for Spritz Cookies, substituting 3/4 teaspoon almond extract for the vanilla.
6. TECHNIQUE: Filling a Pastry Bag: (1) Make a C shape with one hand and hold the piping bag. Fold the bag over that hand about halfway down, insert the tip, and scrape the dough into the bag. (2) When the bag is about half full, pull up the sides, push down the dough, and twist tightly while again pushing down on the dough to squeeze out any air. (3) Grab the bag at the base of the twist. Using the other hand as a guide, hold the top at a 90-degree angle about 1/2-inch above the baking sheet and squeeze to form the shape.