Christmas and cookies are pretty much synonymous. I mean really, can you actually get through the holiday season without Christmas cookies? At least just one… My husband’s family is from Pittsburgh and even though most of the family has since scattered, Pittsburgh is where we go for Christmas to celebrate. It’s kind of like a mini family vacation, but much less stressful. See, we don’t really do anything besides eat, play games and cards and watch TV. So it doesn’t involve that normal family vacation stress where one person wants to do this, the other person wants to do that, and we debate for a day and a half as to which idea is best. Plus there aren’t really any children. His youngest cousin is 10 years old and the others are teenagers, so that probably helps as well.
My husband’s one aunt has become kind of the unofficial Christmas cookie fairy. I think she notes on her Facebook page that she starts baking pre-Thanksgiving to feed all of us. Among them are chocolate chip cookies, jelly cookies and the very coveted buckeyes. Peanut butter chocolate goodness. Really, it’s better you don’t have the recipe for these, I almost choked when I found out how much sugar they had. That’s all to say, I don’t really bake cookies during the holidays. And I’m not complaining.
Cookies and I don’t always see eye to eye. I’m good with the spoon, drop and bake techniques, but something that involves chilling dough, rolling and cookie cutters? No thank you. My mom and I used to make shortbread cookies when I was a kid. Though to be honest, I remember it more like she made the cookies and I would pop in every one in a while to cut a cookie or snatch some dough. I didn’t have the longest attention span back then. Still don’t. But one cookie I’ve always been a fan of are Spritz Cookies. Mix the dough, chill slightly and you still end up with beautiful, buttery cookies that take little effort thanks to the most amazing baking device ever–the cookie press.
I don’t do anything fancy to my Spritz cookies. I use the basic recipe from the Joy of Cooking. Press the cookies, sprinkle with a little red or green sugar and bake for 10 minutes. Bring them to any party or share them with coworkers and people will think you spent hours on the intricate designs rather than 30 minutes or so.
Spritz Cookies (from The Joy of Cooking)
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together flour & salt. Cream together sugar & butter. Add egg yolks & vanilla. Stir in the flour a little at a time, mixing well. Chill dough for 15-20 minutes. Feed dough into cookie press and press cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet (no parchment paper needed!).
Sprinkle with colored sugar and bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned.