Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Grandma's Spritz Cookies, or Spritzgebackenes


These are my favorite Christmas cookies.  A pretty bold statement, huh?  Especially for something so humble as the simple spritz cookie.  But to understand why these cookies are my favorite, I need to tell you about my grandma.  Actually she is my Omi.  (And for those Germans out there, I know very well that grandma in German is Oma, with an -a.  I don't care.  I have called her Omi since I was a child and I am not about to change now.)

At Christmas time, Omi is a cookie-baking, linzertorte-making machine.  

Now that she is older, my Aunt also helps her out with the baking, and between the two of them they churn out hundreds and hundreds of these bite-sized cookies every year.  You see, ever since I can remember, there has been a wicker basket at my grandma's house.  It is about 3 feet high, maybe 1 1/2 feet in diameter, round, and it has a lid.  It sort of reminds me of a medium-sized laundry hamper.  Now, imagine how big this wicker basket/hamper is in comparison to a tiny spritz cookie.  Stretch your imagination a bit more, and imagine this 3 foot tall basket filled with spritz cookies.  No, there was no typo that sentence, my Omi does in fact make enough spritz cookies to fill the wicker basket each year.  She is amazing and I love her for it. Especially since I might single-handedly consume a large portion of those cookies myself.             


For me, her Spritzgebackenes is a sort of 'old-world' Christmas treat, because it doesn't have any bells and whistles, or any fancy ingredients we Americans like to use to gutsy up our cookies.  The recipe lists ingredients in grams, because this is Omi's German recipe, and every good European knows measuring baking ingredients in volumes is rubbish.


The recipe uses a heavy hand with the butter, but the cookies are absolutely not greasy or rich tasting.  They have bright undertones of lemon, and exactly the right amount of sweetness to make them perfect for serving to friends with coffee, or eating after dinner, or just snacking on a few between holiday meals. Actually, anytime is a good time to eat a spritz cookie.


The dough is incredibly easy to make, and with this recipe you should get just the right consistency for the cookie press.  When I talked to my grandma recently about these cookies, I asked her to describe how you know when the dough is the perfect consistency to make the spritz.  She struggled with words and eventually said, "You just know when it is right."  This is a statement that only extremely experienced Omis are allowed to make.  For the rest of us, I think the dough is ready when it comes together and holds its shape when you slice through it with a spatula.        


To make these cookies, you definitely need a cookie press.  My cookie press is from Wilton and it works great in my hands, and is a good price.  There are also a few other cookie presses on Amazon that have good reviews, or if you head to your local Bed Bath and Beyond, Williams and Sonoma, etc., they will definitely stock them this time of the year.  If you have never used a cookie press they are extremely easy to operate: Choose your design plate.  Put the dough into the press.  Screw on the bottom, and press out the cookies.  Smile knowing you are a pro-cookie-maker.  The end. 

(Although I have to say, I find if I - press, wait for 2-3 seconds to let the dough fully come through the design plate, then lift the press off the sheet - this works best.  Just a little trick.)    

I also recently got some MIU silicone baking liners that I have had on my wishlist forever.  These came highly recommended by Ms. Humble of Not So Humble Pie, and I am thrilled that I finally got them for this year's holiday baking.      



Ok before I head out to enjoy more of these cookies, let me say a word about how to know when they are done.  The cookies are small, delicate, and have a lot of butter, so they will go from 'almost done' to 'overbaked' in that moment when you say, "I am just going to give them an extra minute in the oven."  Now don't think that you have to sit and watch these cookies like a hawk; even if they do get slightly overbrowned they don't really end up tasting burnt, they are just a bit more crispy.  Ideally, what you are looking for is a slight browning around the edges of the cookie, and the bottoms should be evenly light to medium brown.  As I suggest in the recipe below, test out a batch in your oven to determine what baking time works for you.  Choose a variety of colored sprinkles to decorate the cookies, and switch out your design plates to make lots of different shapes.    

If you are are searching for the perfect Christmas cookie for friends, co-workers, neighbors, or family, look no further.  This cookie will feed them all, and you can probably do it with just one batch of this dough.  Maybe you can even make it your new holiday tradition.  You don't need to make hundreds of them like my Omi does, but if you do, rest easy knowing you are spreading some authentic Christmas cheer.       




My Grandma's Spritz Cookies, or Spritzgebackenes

500 grams of flour (plus about 2 tbsp extra)     
5 egg yolks or 3 eggs     
the juice and grated rind of 1/2 lemon     
250 grams of unsalted butter     
250 grams of sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking liner.  In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy, and then add sugar, eggs, lemon juice and rind and continue beating.  Gradually add the flour to the mix, and if it seems too sticky, add an additional 2 tbsp flour.  When it is the right consistency, the dough will stick to your fingers a bit, but when you slice through it with a spatula it should hold its shape.  Or, you can just put a bit into the press and test it, you can always beat in more flour if you need to.    

To press out the cookies, fill a cookie press with the dough and press the cookies onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle them with a bit of colored sugar before baking.  Bake cookies for about 8-9 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is the time and temperature that worked for me in my oven, but I know my grandma bakes them for longer (12 minutes) at a higher temperature (390 degrees).  I would suggest testing out a few cookies in your oven and see what works for you; check for doneness when the edges are lightly browned.  The bottoms will be evenly light to medium brown.  Cool the cookies completely on a cooling rack, and then store in an airtight container.  They will keep for a long time, and make perfect holiday gifts for friends!  

38 comments:

  1. I've never had these before (and I am German), I'm very tempted to try. They look utterly delicious. And by the way, Omi is perfectly fine, it's the more affectionate version of Oma. Frohe Weihnachten to both of you!

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  2. they are so pretty and look so delicate :) i'm sure they taste just as heavenly

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  3. christmas cookies are the BEST! especially the buttery ones!!

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  4. I am picturing how much time it takes to make enough spritz to fill a basket that big. Wow! I haven't made these in a number of years. This may just be the year to dig out my Wilton press. My kids love them colored green and red (which is always pink).

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  5. I just saw some really cute cookie presses at Bed, Bath, and Beyond last night and thought to myself how cute it would be to make cookies like that! I might go back and get it now. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I'd help polish off a few myself. Love hearing about your Omi! Just wanted to let you know, I'm still a huge fan and I was so impressed with all your posts in the contest. I'm so fortunate to have met you in person, hope to again one day!
    -Gina-

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  7. We totally are on the same page, Amanda! Yes, these cookies are a lot of fun! I did not have a grandma recipe and it was my first time using the cookie press so I chose one of the recipes on the booklet to make sure I was not messing up things. I have to try your recipe. I bet there will be many more cookies in our lives in the days to come :)
    And btw, how are you? We miss you here in the Bay Area. Come see us :)

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  8. We make a lot of spritz cookies every year (they are my husband's favorites, too), but I don't think we have ever filled a 3-foot tall basket. Wow!

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  9. These are my favorite cookies too! And guess what?! I have an Oma!! I call her Oma though with an a :) Too funny!

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  10. I love that your Omi fills a big basket with these beautiful and delicious looking cookies! She sounds absolutely wonderful. Thecookies look sooo good. I love spritz cookies but have never made them myself. I'll have to get out my cookie press and give it a try! Thank you so much for sharing your Omi's recipe. :) I bake in grams so I'm happy I don't have to convert the recipe!

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  11. Those are beautiful cookies! I might have to try them......thanks for sharing!

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  12. I'm definitely adding these babies to my baking list, and here's to channeling your Omi's cookie-making-machine strength this holiday season. :)

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  13. I dunno, I can see why those would be your favorite! I love spritz cookies, and you & your Omi's look fabulous.

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  14. I guess it's 'cuz nobody in my family actually ever made these cookies that I never had any connection to them. Yours are awfully pretty though. I fear I just sounded a bit like Scrouge. I didn't mean to. GREG

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  15. My mother made these cookies every year at Christmas! I need to hunt down a cookie press QUICK! They look too good to pass up!

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  16. One more note: I gave you a blog award, which you can 'pick up' over on my site. Of course, you don't have to do anything at all with it, except know that I love your blog and think you're awesome! :)

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  17. Yum. My mom and I used to make tons of these cookies when I was a kid (probably not as many as your Omi though!) Every year I tell myself I need to get a cookie press and every year I don't do it! Maybe this will finally be the year.
    Have a great holiday Amanda!

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  18. Your Omi sounds incredible!! I wish I had one!

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  19. These were THE cookies at our house for Christmas. I think my mom made so many of them because they were easy. But I don't think there's anything better than eating a stack of these with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

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  20. Grandma's recipes are the best, aren't they? And somewhere in the instructions is always something about how you "just know" when it's done. These look really great, I'm sure your Omi would be very proud. :)

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  21. Ohh! These look so cute. Thanks for the tip about knowing when the cookie press dough is ready - I just received a cookie press and took it out of the package today with all the questions racing through my mind. Yay for experienced Omis!

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  22. These spritz cookies look great! I'm adding them to my list this week.

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  23. I've been on a quest to try to recreate my Grandmother's spritzgeback, and I think this comes pretty close to perfect. I made these last night and they're delicious! Thanks!

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  24. Omgoodness these are absolutely adorable!! And your Omi's recipe too! Funny you should say it but I just made some cookies and weighed in grams. Felt so accomplished being precise! Merry Christmas to you!

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  25. What a wonderful post!! My mom has made spritz ever since I can remember. Now that I think of it though, they haven't been on the plate this year. She is getting a bit older and not baking like she sued to. I have actually never made them with Liv! My mom always has had the perfect touch to get them just the right shape on the pan. Somehow I always have sticking issues!

    My German Grandmother made these too... but never a 3 foot basket! WOW!

    Hope your holiday is going beautifully! We have a lovely, bright, extraordinarily day here! Got chilly last night, but not cold enough for frost. The pool is nearly clear! ;)

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  26. These have always been my favorite Christmas cookie. We make green trees every single year. My grandmother even found me a Mirro press on eBay when I went to college so that I would never be without one like hers when I left home.

    Yours are beautiful - happy holidays!

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  27. I love Spritz cookies, too! I really should get the recipe from my Oma. We usually pipe them 1" long and dunk half in chocolate. I don't think she has lemon zest, so it would be interesting to try that. Thanks for sharing your family recipe. :)

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  28. These sound fantastic and I am so impressed that your Omi used to fill such a large basket with them. That would be especially awesome to behold as a small child. It's great that you can keep her tradition going by making these cookies each year. Happy holidays!

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  29. How did I miss this post? Belated Christmas greetings to you and your huggable (because I imagine that she is, indeed, huggable). What beautiful cookies, I can't wait to try them for my hubbie and his German family!

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  30. True or False the Linzetorte tasted extra good this year??... I wonder why;)

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  31. My husband's Oma taught me to make these, and every year we also fill a 3 foot tin full of cookies right after Thanksgiving. It is awesome!

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  32. These cookies look delicious. I love the light blue sprinkles. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Very nice photos also.

    Heidi
    Buy Here Pay Here

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  33. cookies is also my favorite .
    I will try this recipe
    I have some
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  35. How does the batter differ if you use 5 yolks vs 3 whole eggs?

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