Spritz are one of those timeless recipes that you can be assured someone in the neighborhood makes every Christmas. Light, buttery, just a hint of almond with a soft crunch, these are both my husband and dad’s favorites.
Of course, there is one barrier to entry, you have to own a cookie press.
There’s really no way around it. Without a cookie press, spritz cookies are boring lumps. There was a year when our press broke and my mom tried to use cookie stamps, but it really wasn’t the same.
So, is it worth the investment? Another kitchen tool that is single purpose? I think so, if you meet three qualifications:
- You or someone you love LOVES spritz cookies
- You’re willing to get creative
You have room
Okay, if you qualify for 1 & 2, you’ll probably make room.
The best part about spritz cookies is the all the discs that come with it. I like to add food coloring to the dough, and even mix colors for a textured effect. Also, one batch of dough can make ~6 dozen cookies. SIX DOZEN! Which is a great way to make bulk treats.
The Spritz Cookie recipe is pretty basic, and hasn’t varied much over the years. In poorer times we substituted margarine for butter, and even omitted the almond extract when we didn’t have any. Obviously butter is better, but austere times… Some people don’t even like the almond extract (can you imagine?!?!), so it’s optional but everyone here loves it!
Also, do not chill the dough. I repeat, DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH. If you do decide to save the dough for another day, cover in plastic and keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Allow to come to room temperature before using. If you don’t, you WILL break your cookie press.
Basic Spritz Cookies Recipe
Makes 72 cookies
- 1½ cups Butter, softened
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- ¼ tsp Almond Extract (optional)
- 3 ½ cups Flour
- Food coloring, sprinkles & toppings (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on high speed for 30 seconds.
- Add the sugar and baking powder, and beat until combined, scraping the sides if necessary.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (if desired), beating until combined.
- Beat in as much of the flour as you can. Stir in any remaining flour.
**** This is where you can divide the dough and add color, if desired ****
- Force unchilled dough through a cookie press onto an ungreased cookie sheet, ideally lined with a silpat.
- Bake for 8 – 10 min or until lightly golden at the edges.
When I was teaching English in Japan, I could occasionally be found teaching western cooking classes in the evenings. Ok, not occasionally. Often. Really often.
I loved teaching cooking. I would spend hours reading cookbooks, refining recipes and trying to recreate foods I’d tried. Then, I would do the best I could to share that knowledge with others. Most of the time it was two dozen or so Japanese adults, myself and a translator, and we would come together in a community center or high school home ec room. I would share recipes that I grew up with, hodgepodging ingredients together from makeshift variations you could acquire in Japan. The students spoke varying levels of English, some nearing fluency, while others were just beginning. But more important than learning language was the cultural exchange and community building.
The basic principles of the recipe are quite straightforward: take a peeled, cored apple; fill with deliciousness; wrap in dough; bake. That’s it. A recipe is almost unnecessary.
Teaching Apple Dumplings to those students in Japan is one of my fondest memories.
When you are learning a language, you often have to leverage the words you know to communicate meaning in unusual ways. I find that some of the most exceptional poetry and writings come from language resourcefulness rather than verbosity. Once I wanted to buy a whole cake, and I didn’t know the word ‘whole’ or ‘slice’ so I said a, “I’d like an uncut cake.” It took the baker a minute to understand me, but in the end, we worked it out.
In my apple dumping class, one student had the outer crust fall off the apple while it was baking. She was comically distressed, struggling to find the words to tell what had happened, and so she cried across the classroom, “Apple…apple…apple is UNDRESSED!”
Immediately she started blushing and we all enjoyed a good belly laugh. It’s the little things…
One of the things I love about this recipe is how customizable it is . You can add raisins (my hubby likes this), or walnuts (for me). You can cut the sugar (for kids), make the crust thinner (my sister) or thicker (my mom). Use more or less butter (said no one ever). Serve with cream, or ice cream, or just with a fork. It’s easy enough for a weeknight dessert, or special enough for a weekend brunch. I hope you enjoy it.
Makes 4 servings. Recipe inspired by the tiny cookbook Recipes from the Pennsylvania Dutch Country (no link)
pie crust ingredients
- 2 cups Flour
- ½ tsp Salt
- ⅔ cup Shortening, or Butter, or a combination
- 6 tbsp Ice-Cold Water, plus more as needed
- 4 small, tart Apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled and cored
- ¾ cup Brown Sugar
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- ½ cup Raisins (optional), preferably golden
- ½ cup Walnuts (optional), chopped
- 4 tbsp Butter, divided into 1 tbsp slices
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Prepare the pie crust.
- Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut in the shortening or butter with your fingers, two knives, or a pastry cutter until the pieces are the size of small peas. Do not over mix.
- Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of water over the mixture, and gently mix until all of the flour is moistened and can combine into a single ball. Do not over mix.
- Divide the dough into four balls. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
- Roll each ball into a large square, about ¼” thick.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg. Gently roll each peeled, cored apple in the spice mixture, and save the remaining mixture.
- Place one apple into the center of each square.
- If you are using nuts or raisins, add them to the mixture now.
- Fill each apple core with a portion of the mixture.
- Place one tablespoon on top of each apple.
- Bring the corners of the dough to the top of the apple and seal by pricking with a fork 3-4 times. This is the part where, if you don’t seal well, your apple will undress in the oven. I like to mark what is on the inside with a couple of pieces on the outside. For example, I hate raisins, and there is nothing worse than a raisin surprise. So, I put a couple raisins on the top of the dough so that I know which apples have raisins in them.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm with cream. Or milk. Or ice cream.
I have a problem. When fruit is on sale, I buy it. It doesn’t matter if I am going out of town soon, or if I already have fruit at home, or even if I know my husband doesn’t like said fruit. There is something intrinsically Californian about having great access to amazing fruit, and I take full advantage of the privilege.
And that’s how I came to be in possession of 3 lbs of blueberries on the brink of being inedible. What’s a girl to do? There are only so many blueberry pancakes a girl can eat!
Solution? Blueberry Clafoutis.
This tasty dish is incredibly simple to prepare and assemble, just one mixing bowl and a pie pan. Top with some freshly whipped cream and voilá, a creamy, fruity sweet treat.
Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Clafoutis
Serves 8. Recipe inspired by Yahoo! Food
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 1 – 2 cups Blueberries
- ½ cup Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 1 ¼ cups Buttermilk
- ⅓ cup Almond Flour
- 2 tbsp All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Lemon Extract
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
- Powdered Sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Grease a glass pie pan with the butter, then sprinkle generously with 1 tbsp of sugar. Arrange the blueberries in a single layer in the pie pan.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk the half cup of sugar, eggs, buttermilk, flours, extracts, and salt until completely smooth.
- Gently pour the custard evenly over the blueberries. Bake for 50-55 minutes until set in the center and a tester comes out clean.
- Allow to cool, then sift powdered sugar over the clafoutis. Serve.
Who says Rice Krispies Treats are for kids? You can take that same crunchy, marshmallowy goodness and turn it into a sugar festivus for all your grown-up friends. All you have to do is take things you know they like: dark chocolate, browned butter, sea salt, and add them to things you know they already love: Rice Krispies Treats, and BOOM. Swoon.
Grown-up Rice Krispies Treats with Chocolate, Brown Butter, Sea Salt
An enhancement to The Original Treats recipe
Makes 12 – 24 bars, depending on your generosity
- 1 stick Butter, plus more for greasing things
- 1 x 10 oz bag Marshmallows
- 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- 8 – 12 oz Dark Chocolate
- 1 tsp Butter
- 1 – 2 oz White Chocolate (optional)
- 1 large pinch Coarse Sea Salt
- Wax paper
- Grease or coat with non-stick cooking spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking pan.
- Brown the butter: stirring constantly, in large saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Keep your eyes on the butter as it can go from browned to burned very quickly.
- Once the butter is completely browned, turn heat to low and add the marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows are completely melted.
- Remove from heat and add cereal and ½ tsp sea salt. Stir until cereal is completely coated and incorporated into marshmallows.
- Working quickly, and using wax paper or by buttering your hands really well, press the cereal mixture into the greased baking pan. Be sure to flatten as evenly as possible an fill in the corners. Allow to cool, about 5 – 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate and butter. I do this by microwaving for 20 second intervals and stirring after each interval. Start with just 8 oz and add more only if necessary.
- Once cool, turn the treats out onto a cutting board lined with wax paper or other large, flat surface. Pour the melted dark chocolate over the cereal and spread evenly to coat. If there is not enough chocolate to your liking, melt some more chocolate to add to the top.
- While the dark chocolate is still soft, melt a small amount of white chocolate in the same way, using a clean bowl. Streak the white chocolate over the dark chocolate.
- Using a toothpick, kebab skewer, or other long, pointy device, drag the tip through the chocolates to make interesting patterns.
- Sprinkle the top of the chocolate with a generous pinch of coarse sea salt.
- Wait for the chocolate to cool completely, or briefly put the treats into the fridge to cool. Once cool, cut into desired serving sizes and enjoy.
What do you do when raspberries are on sale? You make
catnip for humans Raspberry Pinwheels.
Raspberries have come into season and grocery stores are practically giving them away. I can’t resist fruit on a regular basis, let alone at the peak of their season, and oh my, raspberries are in season!
These pinwheels are actually a combination of a couple different recipes. I basically did a web search for “Raspberry Desserts” and found some amazing options, and selected the best of each. The final product is a simple combination of a homemade jam, puff pastry, and a great photo opportunity.
Makes 18. Recipe inspiration from Tutti Dolce, Heather’s French Press and iStockphoto
- 1 ½ cup Raspberries
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 1 tbsp Water
- 2 tsp Cornstarch
- ¼ tsp Vanilla
- 1 tsp Chambord (Black Raspberry Liqueur)
- 1 pkg Puff Pastry (2 sheets)
- Milk, for sprinkles
- White Sparkling Sugar, for sprinkling
- 18 Raspberries, the prettiest ones
- Thaw the puff pastry according to the instructions.
- Combine raspberries and honey in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture to the raspberries and continue cooking until thickened, 1 or 2 minutes. Remove fruit mixture from heat and stir in vanilla and Chambord. Allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- While the filling cools, prepare your pastry. Roll out a single sheet of pastry on a large, floured cutting board.
- Using a pastry or a pizza wheel, cut the pastry into 9 even squares.
- Starting in one corner, cut a slit about halfway towards the center of the square. Make your way around to each corner of the square.
- Fold every-other tip into the center of the square to create a pinwheel shape. Press the tips in the center of the square into the dough to seal. Spoon a small dollop of raspberry filling into the center of each pinwheel. These two steps can be reversed:
- Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount of milk onto each pinwheel, and then immediately sprinkle sparkling sugar over the milk so that it sticks.
- Bake for 12 minutes, or until the pinwheels have just puffed up and are lightly golden. Working quickly, immediately place a fresh raspberry into the center of the pinwheel, gently pressing into the filling. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.
- Repeat steps 5 – 10 for the second sheet of pastry. If you roll the second sheet out too early, the dough will become too soft and difficult to work with.
Registering was one of the very few tasks my now husband and I looked forward to when wedding planning. We spent a lot of time trying to have a registry full of things we needed and wanted, thought were funny or useful, and that reflected our style as a couple. Some things were easy to agree on; we had been lusting over a food processor for years (I wish ‘years’ was an exaggeration, but it’s embarrassingly true). Others were a bit one sided; I picked the sewing machine and he picked the Fred & Friends Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters>.
And then when we agreed the registry was finished, I then went back and added a bunch of things willy nilly.
It wasn’t that I was out to sabotage our registry with things that I wanted exclusively, it was that I spend more time shopping than Brian, and our registry was running out of items. I had been looking at registries for other couples (everyone we know is getting married these days), and I’d think, “Oh, we could use one of those too,” and find a similar object and add it. Brian worried that this behavior would dilute our registry and that we wouldn’t get the things we really wanted, but in the end we got nearly everything, and now we additionally have some extra items that we never would have bought for ourselves.
Honeycomb Pull-Apart Pan, image care of Williams Sonoma
One of these items is Nordic Ware Honeycomb Pull-Apart Dessert Pan (see it on Amazon here). Brian and I have never been bundt people. It’s not my favorite dessert, and I always think once you have a bundt pan, that particular shape and design becomes your signature bundt. People will recognize it as yours. And it takes up so much space in your cupboard for a single function tool that if I were ever going to own one, I’d have to really love it. After seeing a bundt pan on someone else’s registry, I started browsing through the infinite pans on Amazon. It was fairly easy to tell that Nordic Ware is the best in the biz, so I narrowed down my search and browsed through tea cake pans, pans shaped like castles or roses or bugs. Finally I found the honeycomb pan, and instantly I knew this was our pan.
I still felt a bit silly adding it to the registry. Again, we’re not bundt people. I felt even silier when someone bought it for us (thank you David!!!). I wasn’t even entirely sure what we could make in it, since it is an unusual pan with its dividers. We tried the recipe it came with, which was dry and mealy. While the cake came out exactly as the pictures look, the flavor and texture were so disappointing that the pan moved to the back of our cabinet for some time. If you do ever buy this pan, ignore that recipe. Then, one day, I stumbled upon this recipe for Honey Cornmeal Cake. The ingredients are simple, the instructions are easy, and the whole thing takes very little effort.
And the flavor?
I am going to be this mother. Some mothers make cookies or soup or ratatouille. Some mothers are known for their pie or roast or tamales. My mom is known for caramel corn (heaven).
I am going to be known for Honeycomb Cake. The cake can be served as dessert with whipped honey butter, or as breakfast with jam. It’s moist with great texture from the cornmeal, and it’s just dense enough to be a pull-apart bread rather than a true fluffy cake. The orange zest adds a lovely citrus flavor, and the pan divides it into the perfect sections.
I don’t know what this cake tastes like in a regular pan, I am sure it is fine. But it’s the combination of this recipe and this pan that will have my kids requesting it for special occasions and other mothers clamoring for the recipe (yes, I do live in my own little world).
Also, Brian did get his Ninja Cookie Cutters.
Makes one cake. Recipe care of Pure Wow, care of Bees & Beans.
Pan: Nordic Ware Honeycomb Pull-Apart Dessert Pan
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup fine grind cornmeal
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 5 eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 325˚. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cornmeal until just combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar, salt, honey and orange zest until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating fully before adding another. (The batter may start to separate for the last few eggs.) Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake slightly, then remove from the pan, slice and serve.