What is Christmas without cookies? This year I rediscovered a church-fete bargain bought cookie press that had been in storage for three and a half years, and used it to make Swedish butter spritz cookies. My kids had lots of fun choosing the different cookie shapes to press out. And although they are still a bit little and not yet strong enough to pipe themselves, they spent an engaged afternoon helping.
These look impressive and make great Christmas gifts, even if they don’t come out exactly as you planned they would. They are also cheap to make because the ingredients are inexpensive, and also quick: the dough does not require refrigeration before using, and the cookies cook in around five to six minutes.
1 1/4 cups icing mixture (not icing sugar)
2 1/4 cups of plain flour
1/4 teaspoon or more almond essence
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
1. Soften the butter by leaving out of the fridge for several hours (assuming it is not such a hot day that the butter will melt).
2. Sift the icing mixture, and cream into the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the almond and vanilla essence, then the egg yolks, and beat well.
3. Sift the plain flour, then add it into the butter mixture. Mix well until combined. (Note: this mixture needs to be quite soft in order to pipe the cookies, so the sifting does in fact help.)
4. Half fill a cookie press with the mixture. I find it is too stiff to pipe if you overfill it, but maybe someone with more muscle strength would do better.
5. Press down on the cook press to pipe cookies directly onto a well-greased tray. Some people use baking paper, but I find it hard to pipe onto the paper as it lifts up. Press down, then up to finish off. This part takes a bit of skill; I find a trick is not to pipe out too much as otherwise the shapes will be too high. Don’t worry if the cookies don’t look perfect, especially at first. A strategically placed smartie or glace cherry will hide a multitude of imperfections. And as I discovered when I brought a plate for morning tea, the smartie ones tend to disappear the fastest anyway!