Every since I was a kid, I absolutely adored my Mom's Spritz cookies at Christmastime. We would sneak the dough and gobble it up while 'helping' her make the cookes every year. Now that I'm a Mom, I share this joy with my kids. My daughter Rachael loves to smother them in icing. I admit I make a few on the side that only I will decorate, trying to make them as perfect looking as possible.
One of the things that can make spritz cookies so challenging is the cookie 'press' you use. My mom had the 'twist' type. Where you turn the crank and press out the cookies. They don't make many of those anymore. I went through 3 different presses in the last 5 or so years. My first was an electric one that I tossed aside in disgust on the very first try. Then I got the trigger type that had plastic discs which broke after a few years use. I am in no way getting paid for an endorsement, but I went to Amazon online to research my replacement this year and found the BEST cookie press I have ever used. It worked perfect from the start, and the assortment of shapes had me giddy with delight. Here's a link to it if you're interested.
One of the other challenges of spritz cookies is the firmness of the dough. It's important to chill ahead of time because if it's too soft and warm you really lose any sharp shape or definition in the cookie design. I usually make mine a week ahead of time and freeze it. The day before I toss it in the fridge, then I take it out for about an hour at room temperature before you use it. If it's still too firm, you have to work it a little. If it gets warm again, toss it in the fridge for a few minutes to get it back in shape.
Another challenge is how long to bake. I always shave a few minutes off the recommended time, just to check on them. You don't want these to get brown at the bottom. On my stove, my cookies were done in 6 minutes. Make sure to get them out just as the bottom color is turning. It really makes a difference in the taste.
Use icing and/or sugar to decorate, then toss them in the freezer if you're doing them early. Make sure to wrap them properly. Then you just take out what you need as you need them. I take mine out to pack up tins for friends and family, they defrost in no time and stay as perfect as the day you baked them.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy! If you have any favorite holiday recipes you'd like to share, feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Cream Cheese Spritz Cookie Dough
1 cup sugar
1 cup softened butter
3 oz cream cheese
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 TB lemon juice
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Combine sugar, butter, cream cheese, egg, lemon peel and lemon juice and beat until smooth.
Mix in flour and baking soda until workable.
Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes prior to using.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake 7-9 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.
Makes approximately 4 dozen spritz cookies.