These lightly sweet, crumbly little cookies were our holiday gift for Harry’s teachers—they’re spritz cookies, the kind you make with a cookie press (mine is by Kuhn Rikon). Spritz are terrific to make with little kids—who doesn’t love a gadget that shoots cookie dough? I held the press down against the baking sheet, and Harry worked the trigger. He loved seeing the different shapes, and trying to predict what would be formed by the holes in the various disks. And before baking, he sprinkled colored sugar like a madman!
The best part about baking spritz with little ones, though, is that it’s super-quick. Unlike with rolled cookies (like my Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies or Gingerbread Men), there’s almost no waiting—you make the dough, fill the press, squirt out the cookies, decorate if you feel like it, and bake. There’s no transferring of cut-out cookies from mat to baking sheet, which is where mine always seem to go wrong, and you don’t have to make royal icing, which gets applied once rolled cookies are cooled. Don’t get me wrong; royal icing is not exactly a hardship, but if you’re pressed for time it ain’t terribly practical. With spritz cookies, though, half an hour after you start you’ve got your first batch of beautifully formed, delicately delicious treats, perfect for wrapping up and gifting.
Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope Santa brings you everything you want.
Chocolate-Almond Spritz Cookies
Adapted from Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweetsby Carole Walter (which, by the way, is a FANTASTIC cookie book, a fabulous way to spend the gift certificate from Aunt Sally that’s waiting for you under the tree)
Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on which disks used
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup fine almond flour (also labeled almond meal; see NOTE below)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, still slightly firm
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and kept warm
- Heat oven to 350°F. Position racks in upper and lower thirds.
- Pass the flour, almond flour, and salt through a sifter or fine sieve, and set aside.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I use a Beater Blade),mix the butter on medium-low speed until creamy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar in a steady stream and continue mixing until well blended, about 2 more minutes. Add the egg yolks and extracts, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three installments, mixing just to combine after each. Add in the melted chocolate and mix on low until combined.
- Using a narrow spatula, fill the cookie press with the dough, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Select your disk and insert it into the cookie press. Place the cookie press flat against an ungreased cookie sheet and press out a cookie—if the dough seems too soft or gooey, the shapes won’t hold in the oven; refrigerate the press and the rest of the dough for 15 to 30 minutes, then try again. If any cookies come out misshapen, scrape the dough off the cookie sheet and put it back in the bowl—you can use it again.
- Sprinkle the cookies with decorating sugar, if desired, and bake for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. Stay in or near the kitchen towards the end, and trust your nose—these can burn easily. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.
- Allow cookie sheets to cool completely before making the next round, or the dough will soften and spread too quickly.
NOTE: If you’d rather not buy a package of almond flour just for this, make your own. Put about 1/4 pound of blanched almonds (whole or slivered) into your food processor, and add 1 tablespoon of the sugar you’ve already measured for the recipe. The sugar will keep it from turning into almond butter. Pulse until finely ground, then pass through a sieve or sifter to remove any large chunks, which might clog the cookie press.