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Spritz cookies are a family tradition that go all the way back to my husband's great grandmother. The original recipe called for 1/2 a teacup of sugar and and a ball of butter the size of a man's fist.
Tools: You will need something called a cookie press to make these cookies. A cookie press extrudes cookie dough through unique shaped steel disks. These disks create the shape of the cookies. Most cookie presses also come with decorating tips to use for frosting and decorating. There are 4 major kinds of cookie presses on the market. In the left hand picture from left to right; an old fashioned crank press, a top trigger press and an electric press. The right hand picture shows a regular trigger press with the disks. I would highly recommend either a regular trigger press or an electric press. I personally like the electric presses or the regular trigger presses. A good press will cost between $15- $25.
1 cup of room temperature butter
2/3 cup white sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups of flour
Cream the butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy.
Add the flour and the almond extract. Mix just until the flour is incorporated.
Divide dough if you want to add coloring to any of it. Many people like the buttery cream color for all of their shapes. I like green trees and wreaths and red and white flowers. so I tint 1/2 the batch green and then the other half I tint 2/3 of it red and leave the other 1/3 white.
Load the dough into the cookie press. Squeeze the trigger until the dough begins to come out the bottom through the disk. Now hold the press with the disk end resting on the UNGREASED cookie sheet, making sure that the press rests on the cookie sheet Then squeeze the trigger until the dough appears at the edge of the mold. Then lift the press. To make the wreaths, I use the star disk and just press out long zig zag lines of dough on the baking sheet. I then break it into smaller pieces and form by hand into a circle. I press the 2 ends together and then place a red hot on the seam to hide it. As you can see from the photograph at the top, I am not a perfectionist when it comes to making perfect circles.
There will be a bit of trial and error to figure out how many squeezes or how long to press the button to make the perfect shape. If it is too big then scrape it off and put it into the next batch to press. Once you have the shape you want move the press over 1" and press again. One tube of dough will make about 30 cookies. It is much easier to press cookies out onto a cool cookie sheet. If the dough is too soft when using a cookie press, refrigerate the dough or add a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) of flour. If it is too stiff, add 1 egg yolk.
I decorate my Christmas trees with one gold or silver dragee at the top and my wreathes and my flowers with one cinnamon red hot candy before baking.
Bake at 400° for 8-9 minutes until just barely golden on the bottom.
These cookie freeze beautifully.