Holiday Yum! Versatile Butter-Spritz Cookies

   
art by Ellen M. Gregg

Welcome to the next installment of Holiday Yum, our Holiday recipe blog hop series!  For the entire schedule, click here.

Today, I have a classic recipe from my childhood: butter spritz cookies.  I make it every year.  It only requires a few standard ingredients, and it can give you an assortment of different-looking cookie styles.

Here’s my copy, complete with vanilla extract stains and notations over the years:

 But now I have a more tech-y twist on recipe-reading.  Can I just say that I love the early Christmas gift my hubby and I gave each other this year?

I can load my recipes right on this baby! No more stains and crumbs. (although I did have to wipe smudges from the screen afterward, LOL)

Okay, back to the task at hand.  Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the basic butter cookie dough:

Preheat the oven and set out the butter, margarine and egg.  Then go do something else for a while.  Put your feet up; you are about to perform cookie awesomeness, and you deserve it.

When the butter/margarine sticks are soft, dump them into the mixer bowl with the sugar.

Cream together (on my mixer, that’s about a “4” speed), scraping the sides occasionally with a rubber spatula.  You’ll be tempted to stop when it looks like this:

But keep going, until it looks like this:

I know, big difference, right?

While the butter and sugar are working their magic in the mixer, you’re going to do a little sifting of the dry ingredients.  Some folks say you don’t need to sift flour before using.  Personally, I’m a big fan of sifting.  When I was a kid helping out in the kitchen, I got such a kick out of using the sifter that I would sift each batch twice.  It’s a great activity for the kids to help out with – if you don’t mind a cloud of flour in your kitchen.

Yep, I have the little crank-style sifter. The knob fell off the handle ages ago.
See how nicely it turns out? Now I know the baking powder is incorporated.

Next, you’re going to separate two egg yolks.  For tips on separating eggs (with pics), check out my Spiced Pecans post (except this time we’re keeping the yolk, not the white).

Aren’t they just perfect little things?

Add the yolks and vanilla to the creamed butter/sugar mixture:

And once that’s nice and blended together, add the sifted flour/baking powder mixture, a little at a time.  Keep scraping – that flour gets everywhere.

When everything is incorporated, the dough will be fairly stiff, like this:

Now it’s time for the fun part.  This recipe is designed to stand up to a cookie press, so it’s time to load it up!

If you’ve been reluctant to use a cookie press, no worries.  There’s a little bit of a learning curve involved, but it’s a fast way to make a lot of cookies.  Quicker than roll-out and drop-style, once you’re in the “pressing zone.”  Growing up, my mom was seriously into speed – she had to be, with the huge neighborhood demand at Christmastime.  For more on our holiday tradition, check out my earlier blog post: Butterscotch Haystacks, and a story.

About cookie presses:

There are two styles: hand-powered (with a plunger you adjust yourself in order to push the dough through) and electric-powered (battery or corded).  Presses come with standard tips and plates for creating stamped designs, such as trees, flowers, stars, and so on.  When using the tips, you hold the press parallel to the cookie sheet, and for the plates, you hold it upright, like this:

There’s a bit of a press-release-lift motion involved, but once you get the hang of what works for you (I count to myself), it’s easy.

**Note: while you’re working with the cookie press, make sure you cover the rest of the bowl of dough with a damp towel, to keep it from drying out.

What I love about this butter cookie dough is that it’s so adaptable.  In experimenting over the years with different variations, my mom came up with some really nice ones, including the runaway favorite that I’m going to share with you today: chocolate pillows, also known as candy bar cushions.

Yes, I had to take a bite of this in order to show you the inside. Oh, the sacrifices I make.

Once you’ve loaded up your cookie press with butter cookie dough, you’ll need to put on this plate:

Hold the press parallel to the cookie sheet, with the wavy side of the plate design on top, the way it is in the picture.  Then press out a ribbon of dough, so it looks like this:

It’s fine if it isn’t perfectly straight.

Then you’ll want to cut some chocolate squares:

Darn! Broke one. My options: a) cobble the pieces together (it will be covered up, anyway, b) eat it, or c) let your kid eat it.

Place the squares on the ribbon of dough, spaced about an inch and a half apart, but I’ve never been exact about this.  Then apply another ribbon of dough over top.  Use a knife to cut the cookies apart before baking, like this:

See that imperfect top on the cookie? Still yummy!

I like to put sprinkles on top, but you don’t have to – there’s plenty of sweetness in this cookie.  But it’s pretty.

These will take a little longer to bake because of their thickness.  Start at 12 minutes, and keep checking at 2-minute intervals, until they look like this:

Just a little golden; not too much.

These are so good, you’ll want someone standing guard over them:

Step AWAY from the cookies, and no one will get hurt.

Here are other variations of the dough that I made today.  Let me know if you want instructions for the others.  I took pics while making those, too, but this post is getting too long!

Have you tried a cookie press for your recipes?  What’s your favorite cookie?  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Holidays,

Kathy

3 people like this post.

28 thoughts on “Holiday Yum! Versatile Butter-Spritz Cookies”

  1. Ellen M. GreggEllen M. Gregg

    What a great, basic recipe to play with! I love the idea of the pillow cookies, and am thinking I might have to pick up a dark chocolate bar at Trader Joe’s today and give them a try.

    I had a cookie press (bought one from The Pampered Chef because I thought it would a more efficient way for me to make cookies), but never used it. It ended up as a highly sought-after gift at a Yankee swap. 🙂

    Thanks so much for initiating this blog hop, Kathy. It’s such fun to learn about other cooks’ traditions, and get some great recipes and tips in the bargain.

  2. Natalie HartfordNatalie Hartford

    ROFL! Luv this post Kathy. Girl, you are hilarious!
    My favorite: Put your feet up; you are about to perform cookie awesomeness, and you deserve it.
    AMEN!
    The recipe looks amazing and totally doable for even the most baking challenges of people. YUM!!

  3. PatriciaPatricia

    Ooooo – I want me a cookie press! That looks like a lot of fun.

    Does the little Army dude really work? I’m thinking my husband wouldn’t be too intimidated by him.

    Fun stuff!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. zkulliszkullis

    Mmmmm.

    I would have typed more of a reply, but my drool shorted the keyboard…

    😉

  5. Jenny HansenJenny Hansen

    Holy freaking YUM. I’m going to have to figure out if I can make these GF…they look fabulous. 🙂

  6. Gloria RichardGloria Richard

    Dear Santa,

    Please don’t forget those cool Corral Cowboy boots, but I put a cookie press in the right boot and a stack KB Awesomesauce Cookies in the left boot. Hershey’s chocolate? Yum! <=== hint, hint, hint.

    You won't be sorry next year.

    Nicely Naughty Yours,

    Gloria

  7. Paul OwenPaul Owen

    And for the record, everybody, yes, those chocolate pillows are seriously good. Hands-down family favorite Christmas cookie. Now, go back and read the Valentine’s Day post on “foibles,” scroll down to the picture of Christmas cookies, and read up on just how many Christmas cookies we Owen men get to eat prior to the actual Christmas day. It is a source of great angst in our household. And yet, the cookies are so good …

  8. Kristy K. JamesKristy K. James

    How did I miss this post???!!! Yeah, I think I need to buy an electronic cookie press. Just not having to scrape the flour off the counter would be worth it (and I use freezer wrap to minimize the mess…the flour just never wants to stay ON it). And chocolate pillows? OMG! SO trying that recipe!!! I’m going to have to get a little army dude though….to keep ME out of them. This page just made its way into my recipe file. Thanks, Kathy! 🙂

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