It's time for the holidays, Winter Break, let the festivities begin. Am I right? Can I get an amen? Can I get a ... oh, geez, not another sugar cookie. Not another bland cookie saved only by the extreme amount of sugar that is going to make me sick, so sick if I eat another one. Yet, I must. I must make these blasted cookies because my kids have some kind of pre-conceived notion that Christmas is not Christmas without a cookie shaped into a tree and decorated with sugar.
I have nothing against sugar cookies. I swear. They are pretty and dazzling to the eye. Yet, it is rare that I meet a sugar cookie that is actually tasty. I've seen some absolutely beautifully decorated sugar cookies with perfect frosting that makes me envious of whoever has the patience to so carefully decorate each cookie to create works of art. "Why can't you make those?" I'm asked repeatedly by my kids every time we walk into a store that sells them. Typically the cookies are sitting at the register, wrapped in cellophane, for no telling how long. And, yes, I buy them because it's easy to make them happy for the next few minutes, only to come home and have them declare that they aren't that good and then leave the half-eaten cookie on the counter with the dogs licking the crumbs off the floor.
The truth is that most sugar cookies taste like cardboard, a simple bland foundation for all of the frosting and decorations on top. The cookie becomes a conduit for the razzle dazzle, the ooo's and ahhs they are sure to get. And, that is so wrong! If I'm going to eat a cookie then I want to taste the cookie. I want depth. I want complexity. I want a good cookie. It can be cute. It can have all of the sprinkles. It can be festive. However, it must also taste good.
And this is where I segway into the spritz cookie. The spritz cookie is similar to a sugar cookie. The difference is the addition of cream cheese. Spritz cookies are light in texture, not heavy and crumbly. The cream cheese helps hold the cookies together while at the same time lending a slightly tangy bite that is subtle but can't be missed. When it's all flour, butter, and sugar you get a kind of tasteless cookie. When the cream cheese is added, it's an entirely different cookie. And, true confession here, it's one of the best raw doughs you can sneak out of a bowl. Shhh....don't tell anyone I ate it!
My little helper
A little heavy on the sparkling sugar
I wouldn't eat this batch if I were you (sticky face = sticky fingers on your cookies)
Spritz cookies can be rolled and shaped with cookie cutters. They can also be rolled into a log and sliced into round cookies. The best use is using a cookie press. Cookie presses are a clever tool to have with a variety of discs with different cutouts to be used throughout the year. Obviously, I used a a Christmas tree for mine and some kind of flower that reminded me of a poinsettia.
Now, here's the rub, the truth, my confession: I hate my cookie press. I'm not condemning the cookie press as a whole. It probably is ingenious and I'm not giving up on it. I love the plates.
Behold the cookie press!
Oh! Christmas Tree!
I love when it works right. Yet, the majority of the time the darn thing won't work. I hate it. I use my muscles. I squeeze. I get small bits out at a time or a big blob. In any case, it won't ever come out right on the pan and I have to use a knife to scoop it off. A total time killer when it's supposed to be a time saver. I'm willing to give it another try and buy a new cookie press. Perhaps mine is flawed. Perhaps.
Either way, if you have a cookie press and want to use it then use it. If you have tips for me, hand them over. If you have neither, never fear. Just flatten your dough, use those cookie cutters, decorate, decorate, decorate, and enjoy every bite.
A light and slightly tangy cookie made with cream cheese that's perfect for decorating during the holidays. Forget your sugar cookie recipe and try this version instead.
- 1 cup, softened unsalted butter
- 4 ounces, softened cream cheese
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large
- egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 lightly beaten egg white
- colored sugars, sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and beat just until blended. Add in the flour and mix at low speed just until the flour is blended in.
3. If you have a cookie press (and it doesn't give you as much trouble as it does me), choose the die plate you wish to use. Roll your dough into a log that's just slight smaller than the cookie press tube. Slide the log into the tube and begin pressing the dough out onto your cookie sheet, allowing one-inch space in between each cookie. If you do not have a cookie press, the dough is very easy to press evenly by hand or using a rolling pan. Flatten the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut into shapes and place each shape onto your cookie sheet.
4. For your finishing, brush each cookie with egg white. Sprinkle on your decorations. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
5. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges. Depending on how thick they are, this could be anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully because the sugar decorations will cause the edges to burn. Place the cookie sheet on a rack for 5 minutes before transferring them to another rack to cool completely.
These cookies can be stored at room temperature or frozen in an airtight container. Any leftover dough can also be freezed for up to two months when wrapped tightly in plastic and placed in an airtight container.