Another favorite holiday cookie is called Spritz in the United States and Spritzgebäck in Germany and Europe. They are sometimes known as Scandinavian butter cookies. Along with gingerbread cookies they are found on most cookie plates during the winter season. The dough is simple but the taste of these delicate cookies is exceptional.
The dough is a combination of butter or shortening, sugar, egg, flour and flavorings. Some bakers add finely ground nuts, zest and other flavors. In Germany bakers often grate chocolate into the dough or dip half the cookie into melted chocolate. Another variation features jam between two layers of cookie dough. The cookies can be plain, iced, topped with coconut, candied cherries, colored sugar, sprinkles, melted chocolate or nuts.
The cookie shapes are extruded using a cookie press or a meat grinder with a star disk. The dough can be piped out of a pastry bag through a star tip. In Europe the cookies are shaped into O’s, bars and S’s. Many more shapes can be made using a cookie press, trees, wreaths, hearts, camels, butterflies, bars, etc.
This type of cookie/pastry was developed in Northern Europe during the middle Ages. The buttery cookie/pastry soon became one of the traditional treats families baked during the winter holidays. Children love to help bake and decorate cookies. It is a good way to pass down family recipes.
The German pastry dough is kneaded instead of mixed and uses powdered sugar instead of granulated. In the U.S. the dough is mixed together and sometimes contains shortening or cream cheese instead of all butter. Vanilla is the standard flavoring but coffee, rum, orange, lemon, almond and other extracts can be used. Colored sugar, candy sprinkles and bits of candied cherries can be used as decorations. Food coloring can be added to the dough.
The following recipes were some my Mother collected.
The recipe comes from the Mirro brand cookie press booklet. I think Mom got the cookie press in the early 1950s, she made these every Christmas. She would often add green food coloring, use the tree disk and colored sprinkles to make Christmas trees.
Makes 6 to 7 dozen cookies.
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 3 oz. package of cream cheese
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely ground orange rind
- 2 ½ cups of sifted all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Cream the shortening and cream cheese. Add the sugar and continue creaming. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla and the orange rind. Sift flour with salt and cinnamon. Add to the creamed mixture.
Heat the oven to 350 degree F. and set out cookie sheets. Form cookies using a cookie press on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, colored sugar or sprinkles before baking. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on a rack.
Another recipe from the Mirro booklet. Mom would use the swirl pattern disk and add a bit of candied cherry to the center. She said this recipe tasted like the cookies her aunt had made.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.
- 1/3 cup of butter (salted)
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 ¼ cup of sifted all-purpose flour
Cream the butter. Gradually add the egg and almond extract. Add the sifted flour. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. and set out ungreased cookie sheets. Fill the cookie press and fill the baking sheets. Add a piece of cherry in the center of each cookie before baking. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a rack.
German Spritz Cookies
I’m not sure where I found this recipe. Most likely in a magazine years ago.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies.
- 2 cups of butter
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
- Pinch of salt
- 4 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
Cut the butter into pieces. Add the sugar and work it into the butter. Beat in the eggs and flavoring. Mix the salt with the flour. Knead in the flour a cup at a time until the dough is stiff enough. Use a cookie press or piping bag and a star tip to form cookies on cookie sheets. Heat the oven to 375 degrees (F. ). Bake 12 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans and cool on a rack.
If the dough is too soft to form correctly using a cookie press add a few tablespoons of flour or put the dough in the refrigerator for a while.
The first few cookies from the cookie press never look right. Scrape them up and put the dough back into the press.
Orange and lemon extract can be used in the dough. Add some zest.
Instant coffee, brown sugar and spices, melted chocolate or cocoa, peanut butter in place of some of the butter and other flavors can be used. If you use instant coffee, cocoa, zest or spices mix rhem in with the flour. Extracts should be added with the egg.