24 December 2015

Vegan Viands #18: Christmas Spritz Cookies


Shana, my culturally Jewish wife, had no idea what Christmas was like the first year she joined my family at Christmas. The second year, the words above were her refrain; she had the excitement of a 6-year old. The third year, we had to set rules about what time she was allowed to wake everyone else.

If you've been an even somewhat-regular reader of this blog, you'll already know that I love traditions. Although sometimes traditions can stifle, when there's room to take them or leave them or change them to suit your needs/life, they can be wonderful, providing things to anticipate and/or structure in a chaotic world. No matter what (if any) religious faith you follow or grew up with, religious holidays are filled with tradition. One of the Christmas traditions at my house has been spritz cookies. Spritz Christmas cookies come from a long history in Germany or Sweden. Given that Germans and Swedes are two of the major immigrant groups who settled Minnesota, it's no surprise that these cookies make an appearance at Christmas time. They are a sweet, buttery cookie that is squeezed* out of a tube through a disk with a shape cut into it.

Therein lies the difficulty, you can't make these cookies without a spritz cookie machine. Machine isn't a really accurate word for the tool, as the machine is kind of a glorified plunger. But anyway, you need the tool! Although the one I use at my family's house is ancient, one of the more highly rated ones can be found here. After you have the spritz cookie tool, you're on your way to quick, easy, and tradition-filled cookies.

Vegan Spritz Cookies
This recipe is the recipe for "sugar cookies" that came in the booklet with my family's Mirro cookie press.

2 sticks vegan butter (1 c.)
1 c. sugar
3 "eggs" (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)
1/2 T. vanilla
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
food colorings of choice (optional)
cookie decorations of choice (optional)

Preheat oven to 375
1. Cream "butter" and sugar very well.
2. Add vanilla and "eggs" and cream again.
3. Add dry ingredients slowly until incorporated.
4. If coloring the dough, separate into as many bowls as desired colors and add colors.
5. Add dough to cookie press and press dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. It may take a bit of experimentation to figure out your cookie press.
6. Decorate cookies (leave frosting and/or powdered sugar dusting for after baking) and then bake for 8-9 minutes, or until barely brown on the edges (browning is harder to see in colored cookies).

Helpful Hints
  • For $20-25, a cookie press is a fun tool if you think you will be making these cookies every once in a while. There's no reason you need to only make the at Christmas, either. 
  • Some recipes call for other extracts in the dough (e.g., almond). Feel free to experiment!
  • Many other cookie doughs can be put through the cookie press. For example, the little booklet with this recipe also has recipes for a sour-cream spritz, a peanut butter spritz, a chocolate spritz, anise tea cookies, and more. 
  • You can cook these a bit longer (e.g., 10 minutes), but it makes the cookies far more dry and I prefer them soft and chewy. 
  • If you use a soy-free vegan butter, these should be friendly for those with a soy allergy. 
*The origin of the name of the cookie is likely from the German word "spritzen," which means "to squirt." In Germany, these cookies are called Spritzgeback.

The post "Vegan Viands #18: Christmas Spritz Cookies" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

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