Another cookie press preparation.
These recipes came (with some slight alterations) from the 1950s-era booklet that came with the Mirro Cooky Press, which you can read at A Southern Gal’s Quest for the Gourmet Life. The page for Snow Flakes has a helpful (if stylized) illustration of how one might look:
It has six sides, I guess. If you think that doesn’t look much like a snowflake, consider that the ability to effectuate even that idealized result depends substantially on the cooperation of the cookie press. Most attempts tend to look more like these:
My limited experience with cookie presses has gone about the same as the photographer’s above. We make real snowflake cookies, because no two are quite alike.
That said, there are a few things to keep in mind to give you the best odds of having pretty spritz. (Really, anything out of a cookie press can be described as a spritz cookie, from from the category of German cookies called spritzgebäck, combining the words for “squirt” and “baked.” Ah, German, such a poetic language, if the goal of poetry is to be as awkward and dissonant as possible.)
- Use room temperature dough. The recipes designed for spritz are made to hold their shape at room temperature, and the more malleable the dough, the better it’ll fall artistically off of the die.
- Only use one die per tray. I know it’s tempting to swap dies every five minutes to cut different shapes of dough onto the tray, but remember that the basic rules of baking still apply here: things of different sizes bake at different rates. If you put Christmas trees and snowflakes on the same tray, you may well find you have burnt tree-tops when your snow is just yellow. And you can’t serve yellow snow, can you? (Couldn’t resist, sorry.)
- Weigh down the tray with cans or get a helper to hold it. One of the easiest ways for your snowflakes to end up shaped like a snowman in July is for the tray to actually stick to the dough when you’re trying to lift the cookie press off of the tray. In the German tradition, spritzgebäck would be made with children as helpers, and that extra set of hands could hold down the tray while someone squirts. If you’re baking solo, you can place a can of vegetables in each of the four corners of the tray while you fill the middle.
Since we learned the word spritzgebäck, here’s an odd bit of trivia. It shares a latter half with the word zwiebäck, or “twice baked,” a kind of very dry toast or biscuit usually given to babies for teething purposes. Meanwhile, the Italians have biscotti, which translates to “twice cooked.” I think all you need to know to compare German culture to Italian culture is that the German twice-baked item is toast and the Italian twice-baked item is a cookie.
From a box sold in River Forest, Illinois.
1 cup shortening
1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. grated orange rind
2-1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- Cream the shortening and cheese well. Add sugar gradually and continue creamy [creaming?].
- Beat in egg yolk, vanilla extract, and orange rind.
- Sift flour with [salt] and cinnamon.
- Add to creamed mixture.
- Fill a mirror [Mirro] cooky press.
- Form fancy cookies on ungreased Mirro aluminum cooky sheets. Decorate with colored sugar, cinnamon sugar, or chopped almonds.
Bake. Remove at once from sheets. Cool on wire cake racks.
Makes 6-7 dozen.
Time: 12-15 minutes.
Temperature: 350 deg. F.