Spritz Cookies

December 24, 2011

Spritz maker

Margaux says…

A very fond Christmas memory for me is helping my Granny make spritz cookies. She is the one who taught me to bake when I was very young…we baked cookies pretty often, and she let me do a lot of the work. But spritz was my favorite! I loved twisting the top of the spritz-maker, squeezing out dough in cute little shapes. She let me pick the shapes, and most of them turned out being either too fat or too skinny. But the point was that she let ME do it, and I felt so proud! And then we got to decorate them with colored sugars and silver baubles, making them into perfect little Christmas treats.

I actually didn’t much like eating spritz cookies when I was a kid (I was more of a thumbprint cookie lover); I didn’t get a full appreciation for them until I was an adult.  But now they’re one of my favorites…little butter-citrus bites that are the perfect size.  I always make citrus-flavored (because that’s what Granny always made), but you can do all sorts of variations on them, which I will give instructions for below.  I got these recipes out of last year’s Martha Stewart Living December issue…it is very similar to, if not the same as Granny’s.

Lemony Spritz Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt until fully combined, about one minute. Add flour, and beat on low speed until just combined (do not overbeat). If tinting the dough, divide it into separate bowls and mix in the food dyes. Just make sure you’re not overworking the dough so that it doesn’t make tough cookies.

If you want to make vanilla cookies:
Replace citrus zest and juice with 2 tsp pure vanilla extract.

If you want to make chocolate cookies:
Replace 1/3 cup flour with 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, and citrus zest and juice with 2 tsp vanilla extract.

If you want to make spice cookies: (I think I’m going to try this next year-sounds good!)
Add 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, and 1/3 tsp freshly ground pepper when you add the flour mixture. Replace citrus zest and juice with 2 tsp vanilla.

To bake the cookies:

Knead dough briefly to soften. Fill a cookie press with dough and fit with disk to make shapes (Mirro made a great cookie press, you can find lots of them on Ebay). Squeeze cookies directly onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar (optional). Bake at 350 degrees until firm, 12-14 minutes. Let cool completely on cooling rack before glazing (also optional…last year I glazed because I had time, this year I didn’t. I think they’re just as good without glaze. Granny never glazed. 🙂 ).

Vanilla and Citrus Glazes

For citrus glaze:
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp citrus juice
3 tsp finely grated citrus zest
3 tbsp light corn syrup

For vanilla glaze:
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp whole milk
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Dip tops of cookies in glaze, decorate with sanding sugars or small candies while glaze is still wet. Let set on wire rack.

 

 

 

Margaux says…

So I entered another Food52 contest, and I think I submitted the wrong entry. The problem is, I waited until the last minute to start testing my recipes, and so it came down to crunch time (second tart was still baking at 8:30 pm on the night the contest entry was due), and I went on blind faith that the one in the oven was the better choice. While it was delicious, I now think that I entered the wrong one…the first one I made was even better.

My main reluctance to enter the first tart I made (Pear-Citrus-Rosemary Tart) was that it wasn’t as original as the second one. It was inspired by a sweet pizza recipe that Aunt Suzy gave to me several years ago, and I didn’t change that much other than using a tart crust rather than sweet pizza dough, and using butter rather than olive oil. The second tart I made was based on this cake recipe, and obviously, since it came from a cake recipe, I changed quite a bit.

The pear-citrus-rosemary tart is very sweet and buttery, and has tons of flavor.  The ginger-pear tart is a french classic with a twist.  They are actually quite different, and I recommend trying both.  But if you have to pick just one, do the pear-citrus-rosemary.  Of course!  It has butter!  🙂

Pear-Citrus-Rosemary Tart
adapted from Italian Country Table by Lynn Rosetto Kasper

1 recipe sweet tart dough (pate sucree)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3-4 medium-large Bosc pears
fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
grated orange peel from one orange
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch black pepper
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake tart pastry according to directions, then brush egg yolk onto the baked shell with a pastry brush and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, until the yolk is set and shiny. Drop the temperature on the oven to 350 degrees. Set shell aside.

Peel and slice the pears into 1/8″ slices into a medium bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, orange peel, cinnamon, rosemary and pepper. Sprinkle in the butter, and cut with a pastry-cutter until crumbly like a streusel.

Layer the pears in the tart shell, overlapping them in a pretty pattern (if you’d like). Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the pears. Bake 40-50 minutes, until pears are soft when pierced with a fork and top is golden brown. Place tart on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove outer ring carefully, then slide a completely flat and thin spatula or knife between pan bottom and tart, and slide onto a completely flat serving plate. Serve the day it is made.

Fresh Ginger-Pear Tart

1 recipe sweet tart dough (pate sucree)
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
3-4 medium-large Bosc pears
1-2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 2 tbsp)
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake tart pastry according to directions, then brush egg yolk onto the baked shell with a pastry brush and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, until the yolk is set and shiny. Drop the temperature on the oven to 350 degrees. Set shell aside.

Peel and slice the pears into 1/8″ slices into a medium bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and ginger. Layer pears into the baked tart shell, overlapping into a pretty pattern. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until pears are soft when pierced with a fork and top is slightly browned. Place tart on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove outer ring carefully, then slide a completely flat and thin spatula or knife between pan bottom and tart, and slide onto a completely flat serving plate. Serve the day it is made.