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 . . .

I’m attracted to any cake recipe that has the word caramel in it.  I don’t know why, but I’m always searching for the elusive “perfect caramel cake.”  Actually, I do know why…one of my favorite local restaurants, Feed, had a caramel layer cake for dessert one night when we were there, and it was the best thing I think I’d ever tasted.  They haven’t had it since, and I’ve been trying to find a recipe that is similar to re-create it, but haven’t found it yet.   I realize that this cake is not caramel cake, but applesauce cake with caramel glaze, but it still piqued my interest because I also love apples in cake.  And I happened to have some homemade applesauce that needed to be used up very soon.  Desmond’s birthday was the week that I got this recipe in my weekly Food 52 email, so I decided to make it (even though his party wasn’t actually until the following weekend…but a kid has to have a cake on his actual birthday, too, right?).  It was delicious…very spicy, and moist.  I think next time I’ll make the glaze a little thicker, because most of mine rolled off, and it was wonderfully caramel-y, and a waste to see it fall to the foil underneath!  I used the full cup of powdered sugar, and might increase to a cup and a quarter next time.

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

After seeing Margaux’s post, I decided to make this cake for my book club get-together this month.  It is a Wow!!  The cake is very moist, not too sweet and my hunch is that the black pepper accentuates the other spices.  I could not get enough of it so I’m glad it was a bundt – plenty to go around.  I will also mention that I added more powdered sugar per Margaux’s suggestion.  It turned out to be a little more like frosting than glaze, but it was delicious and pretty.  I placed the cake directly on the serving plate before adding the frosting.  I heartily recommend this cake!

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

from Food 52 blog

Serves 10

For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened (preferably homemade) applesauce
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the caramel glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs with both sugars until light. Mix in the applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth.

2. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack before turning it out and cooling completely on the rack — make sure the cake is not at all warm before you make the glaze.

3. TheRunawaySpoon wisely advises that you put a piece of foil or paper under the cooling rack to catch any drips before you start the glaze. Put the butter in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar, cream and salt and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute exactly, and then pull it off the heat.

4. Leave the pan to cool for a couple of minutes, and then gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until you have a thick, but pourable consistency (you may not need all the sugar). If the mixture seems too thick, just add a splash of cream to thin it out a little. Immediately pour the glaze over the cake, moving slowly and evenly to cover as much surface area as possible. Let the glaze set before serving the cake.

Note: If you’re serving this cake to demanding or hyper-observant guests (What? Did I say that?), you may want to glaze the cake right on the plate you plan to use to serve it, forgoing the rack. As soon the glaze has even the slightest chance to set, it will crack if you try to transfer the cake from rack to serving plate.