Saturday, December 27, 2008

ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHANUKAH

My mother has been baking and decorating “spritz” cookies since the 1940s. Spritz cookies come in dozens of shapes, colors, and flavors. One thing they have in common is that they are all made using a cookie press.

Even as a child, I understood the beauty of my mother’s odd-looking metal cookie press… it let you produce dozens of pretty cookies super-fast. I always begged to use the press instead of baking other kinds of cookies.

Tonight, I’m turning over “the cookie story” to my mother Ruth. It was her story before it became mine.

(The family photo, below, is of my mother Ruth, my father Fred, my grandmother Jenny and grandfather Sam.)

RUTH’S STORY BEHIND THE HOLIDAY HEARTS

“One day when I was about twenty years old, one of my aunts came to visit my family and brought a plate of beautifully decorated cookies.

“My aunt was known as a great baker. The cookies were cut into all different shapes and were sprinkled with colored sugar and sprinkles. My aunt told my mother Jenny that she made them.

But when my aunt left, my mother Jenny said that she thought my aunt was lying and that the cookies came from a bakery. They are were too beautiful to be homemade.

Several months later, when my mother and I were shopping at a department store, I spotted a cookie press for sale. On the box was a photograph of cookies (made using the press) that looked very similar to my aunt's!

We bought the cookie press and took it home. After reading the recipes that came with the food press, we bought everything required and made our own beautiful cookies.
My aunt hadn’t been lying, after all.”

(this is not the original press)

HOLIDAY HEARTS

A cookie press

For Dough
1/2 lb butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla, almond or orange extract
A few drops of food coloring (pink for hearts, green for trees, etc.)
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

For Decorating
Sprinkles, colored sugar or other cookie trims

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and food coloring. Mix 3 cups of flour with baking powder and add to mixture. Add more flour, if tough is sticky. Add more food coloring, if needed.

Insert a heart disc into the bottom of the cookie press, then fill the press with a narrow tube of dough. Hold the press perpendicular to an ungreased cookie sheet and press out the hearts.

Decorate, as desired.

Bake for about 12 minutes. Makes about 80 cookies. FAST!Tonight's tiny menorah belongs to my mother. It was the first one she and my father bought after they were married. It holds small birthday candles.

11 comments:

TattingChic said...

Your tiny menorah is very sweet looking. Thanks for sharing the spritzer cookie story! I've always wanted a cookie press! Maybe next year! Oh, I know...next time Michael's has their 40% off coupon...THAT's when I'll get a Wilton Cookie press there, LOL! :)

GeorgiaPeachez said...

Hi Barbara, I am so digging all your wonderful recipes and I love seeing all the different menorahs! xo, suzy

NeereAnDear said...

Spritz are one of my favorite cookies... I have a recipe for spritz with cream cheese... I love my press because it really is so easy and quick ...

Once again a fabulous story... I am enjoying the history behind each recipe....

All the photos of the menorahs are fantastic...

HUGS

JO

fifi said...

OK, you did it! Reading your yummy recipes has made me fat by association! That's it: next year I am coming to your house for Chanukah............
How lovely to be able to enjoy this holiday with your family and friends and to share your goodies with us.
xoxoxo
fifi

Betty Jo said...

These are my favorite cookies, and I've never made them myself. I think I'll look for a press, use your recipe, and learn to make them. Thanks again for the recipe and the inspiration. xoxo

Cathy said...

We always had Spritz cookies in our home. They were sweet and fun to make. I haven't made them in years. I think I'll go dig out my cookie press and make some hearts. Too cute.

xo Cath

Anil P said...

A very interesting story of how the cookie press came to be used at your home. Your aunt must have loved making cookies to be an expert at it.

The colours are striking, quite unlike anything I've seen.

rochambeau said...

Hi Barbara,
Hope your holidays have been happy ones! Wishing you peace and joy in 2009!

So happy we have met through blog land.

Guess what?
I'm your sister in the pink hearts Spritz! at Christmas! We have some in the other room still! I love them!!

Hi to your mom from me!

xox
Constance

Barbara said...

How nice to be able to make so many cookies so fast. They look good and fun.
Happy New Year to you Barbara.

Sara said...

Hi Barbara, I like that you are sharing all these cookie recipes and stories with us.

A cookie press - I hadn't given that a thought in decades. But I remember my mom had one. I don't remember her ever using it though....she was more of a stir the dough and drop it by spoons full on the cookie sheet sort of baker. As a child I was always fascinated by the different disks with the cutouts in them, wondering what sort of cookie shape they would make.

Happy New Year to you.

Sara

The Painted Garden said...

Hi Barbara,

Thank you for taking us on a lovely Seven Days of Chanukah journey and sharing all of your family cookie recipes and for sharing the wonderful stories behind each recipe.
The yummy Amish raisin cookie recipe sounds very much like one my Irish Grandmother taught us to make as she always boiled the raisins to plump them up.
Best wishes for a wonderful New Year.
Erin