As a child I thought my Norwegian Grandma Lillian made the best cookies for Christmas. She made the traditional Scandinavian cookies as well as American cookies. My favorites were always the spritz and the rosettes. I’ve already posted rosettes, it’s time to talk about spritz! I’ve made spritz over the years and never think they’re quite as good as when Grandma made them even though I follow the recipe exactly.
Maybe it was the fun of sneaking them out of the large Tupperware containers setting on the washer and dryer in the laundry room off the kitchen. To even have a laundry room on the main floor was quite modern in the 1960s. With its sink and cupboards it was a seriously cool place and where Grandma stored her Christmas baking.
As kids we ran around the finished basement apartment and played with cousins. And snuck upstairs to snag a cookie or two when the adults were busy talking. Spritz were easier to sneak away in our pockets. Rosettes were big fried cookies that fell apart too easily.
I’m not an almond flavoring fan so I’m not sure why I love spritz so much. When I make them myself I use a touch of almond extract and the rest in vanilla extract. Grandma used to make the tree shaped spritz colored green and the flower versions colored pink. She always stuck a piece of candied fruit in the center or sprinkled them with colored sugar. I use the colored sugars on my spritz but usually don’t color the dough. They’re almost a yellow color anyway with the total of two egg yolks in the dough.
I start by melting the butter a little, not to a totally liquid state, just partially. Using an electric to beat the butter together with the powdered sugar, I beat it until it is creamy and smooth. Next I beat in the eggs and the extracts.
I mix the flour and salt together and add it a little at a time to the sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. The dough ends up fairly stiff and the mixer likes to bog down. Eventually it comes together in a ball.
I have a fun cookie press that has so many shapes I’ve not tried most of them. I stick to the tree or the flower, as my Grandma Lil did. I press them out onto half sheet baking pans and sprinkle them with the colored sugar before putting them into the preheated oven.
It’s important to watch closely after the cookies are in the oven and set the timer. The oven is preheated to 400°F and we don’t want them to brown much, just barely around the edges. Spritz should be light in color.
Done just right, spritz dissolve in your mouth in buttery bites and look store-bought. Or as close to Grandma Lil’s as I can get!
1 cup butter; softened but not totally melted
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg and one egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400°F
With a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, yolk and extracts and beat until mixed.
Mix together flour and salt and add about 1/2 cup at a time to the batter, beating well between each addition until all flour is incorporated.
Put dough into a cookie press and press cookies onto a baking pan. They can be quite close, they don’t spread much. Sprinkle with colored sugars or garnish with bits of dried fruit.
Bake in preheated oven for 7-9 minutes. Different shapes take different timings. Watch to make sure the cookies are just beginning to turn light brown around the edges. Remove from baking sheet immediately, placing on a rack to cool.
Store covered on the counter or frozen for longer periods of time.
Makes 4 or 5 dozen, depending on the shape you make.