We may not all be decorating and shopping yet, but the planning for Christmas cookie baking is in full swing! So here starts our series of this year’s Christmas cookie recipes.
I love it when our disks have multiple uses/can create multiple shapes, because it adds value for our customers, which is wonderful. (See Chocolate Halloween Cookies where the Gingerbread boy doubles as a Mummy!) In this recipe, I used two disks from our Flowers set to make poinsettias. The petunia made a nice straight-on view and the Lily made a nice from-the-side view. Color them bright red and add yellow centers and voila! Poinsettias. In the Spring the Lily will be wonderful as an Easter cookie, and petunias are a summer staple. Make yellow lemon poppy seed cookies with that disk/set and serve them with lemonade. Double the value! I love it.
(*NOTE: As of our 2019 Re-Opening our new disks are made of a solid white material, but the designs are exactly the same, and press identically.)
In more obvious fashion, the Holly Leaf Disk is from The Christmas set (shown here notched for special presses). There are 8 Christmas themed disks in the set. (Links below) All in all we have two Christmas sets, Gingerbread, Christmas Ornaments, Winter, and two sets of Snowflakes. Forty-four Christmas and winter disks. I love to see the creative ideas our customers come up with, so if you make something fabulous with any of these, do reach out to us. We love to hear from you!
OK, on to making poinsettia and holly leaf cookies.
I did another recipe tweak for this blog. The vanilla recipe I used last year for the wreaths is yummy, but I wanted a slightly stiffer dough for the thick poinsettias. So here’s the new one. They’re pretty interchangeable, but I like to offer as many variations as I can!
Vanilla Spritz Cookies #2
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened (not melted) *I recommend Land O Lakes butter as I know it creams properly. Some generic butters do fine, but others just will not cream correctly for this purpose and result in a hard-to-press dough.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk (I used 2%)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
red and green gel food coloring (NOT liquid that alters the dough too much)
red and green edible pearl dust
Red decorating icing (homemade or from a tube is fine) plus writing tips to make dots.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Gather your ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the four, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Next cream the butter very well, like you’re making a whipped buttercream frosting. A fluffy base makes for fantastic spritz cookies and easier pressing. If you’re doing it right you might notice that your butter lightens in color a bit and gets very very creamy.
It must be something about the angle of the sunlight this time of year, because I keep catching rainbows from my window prisms in my pictures!
Add the sugar and cream it very well again. Blend in the vanilla and milk, then add the egg and whip it all again until it is light and fluffy.
Add the flour mixture just until all of it is incorporated. You don’t want to over-mix spritz dough. The cookies come out tougher and less delicate if you do.
Perfect spritz dough has a slightly stiff texture and does not stick to your fingers too much.
Separate your dough into two medium bowls. Add gel food coloring to make 2/3 of the dough red and 1/3 green. Begin with a little bit and add it until you like the color. The colors will lighten slightly when you bake them. I used a large spoon and then my hands to rub the color in.
This blog is a little bit special as I’m using a different press than I’ve ever shown. I’m using The Pampered Chef® cookie press (their most recent model). This press and the older Mirro® aluminum presses require notched disks. We now have a notched disk available that fits both!
(*NOTE: As of our 2019 Re-Opening we no longer offer disks to fit this style of press. We apologize for the inconvenience. See our disk sizing explanation on our website.)
I grew up using a Mirro® press and am admittedly very fond of twist-action presses. While some of the one-click-per-cookie presses are really superb and a breeze to use, I love the control of a twist press. You can lean over and watch the dough spread onto and grab the cookie sheet, letting you see and figure out just how much dough is right to squeeze out for a particular design.
Three important but easy notes about using our disks with this press. (You can of course skip this section if you’re using another press.)
*One: place the disk in the bottom ring and set it down or hold it very flat. You will need to set the dough-filled barrel down on top of the ring, then twist the bottom ring on so that the disk stays in place. It’s very simple, I just don’t want you to get frustrated it you try to screw the ring on with the press sideways and the disk falls out! Our disk is thicker so it will not lock in the ring. But as you see here it fits well and presses just fine! 🙂
*Two: you may notice some slight dough leakage around the notch holes. This is expected and will not affect your pressing. I had no instances of dough sticking to the pans from those spots. In fact, if I hadn’t turned it over to look, I would never have known!
*Three: DO NOT press every last bit of dough out. Our disks are thicker than the metal ones that come with the press, therefore the curved plunger at the bottom of the screw rod will push down against the disk. Stop short when you feel resistance so you do not crack the disk! Our disks are extremely sturdy, but let’s not take any chances.
Back to holly leaves.
Pack your dough into the press barrel, using the back of a spoon to eliminate air pockets as you go. Begin pressing and remember that the first few cookies are often mis-shapen as pressure is still building up in the barrel. Just throw them back in the bowl to be re-pressed. Once you’ve gotten a good shape to come out, try to press in a consistent rhythm.
Bake for 6 to 9 minutes or until they have a set look. Check them early and often as all ovens are different and spritz brown quickly. The edges do not need to brown much, if at all. Spritz cookies get more delicate and crispy the longer they bake, and are more dense the less they bake. Experiment with the first sheet and see what you prefer. The texture also changes as they cool, so keep that in mind. Allow them to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. This helps prevent breaking.
When you’ve used all of your green dough, wash the press and switch to red. Press the poinsettias.
For the shapes made with the Petunia disk, take a minute to pinch the flower petal tips to make them look a little more poinsettia-like. In the picture below, the upper right petals have been pinched. See the difference? Don’t pinch them too hard or they look a little weird. Just make them slightly pointier for a crisp look. I sugared all of my cookies with a light sprinkling of regular granulated sugar. It doesn’t show in the final product but adds a touch of sweetness.
Bake the same as the holly leaves.
Now to decorate. I discovered last spring that a simply gorgeous way to add texture and color and pizzazz to spritz cookies is to simply brush them with edible pearl dust. For these I used Wilton’s green and red pearl dust. Apply it with a food-safe brush. You can get them and the dust online or at Wal-Mart or other stores that carry decorating supplies.
When adding the pearl dust to the holly leaves don’t dust the 3 spots were the berries will go. This will help the icing stick.
Then using a round decorating tip, pipe 3 red dots on for berries. Use a slightly wet fingertip to gently touch and flatten any pointy icing tips on the dots.
For the poinsettias there are actually two ways to do the yellow centers. One is to apply the yellow nonpareils to the pressed shapes before you bake them. They sink in just a bit but stick well. Alternately, you can bake them and then apply a bit of icing to the centers, flatten the icing with a slightly damp fingertip, then apply the nonpareils to the wet icing, turning the cookies over to let the excess fall off. I did this over a paper towel so it would catch the nonpareils to be reused. Folding the towel when I was done made it easy to pour them back in the bottle.
That last frame shows the technique I like best for dusting cookies. Use a soft-tipped brush and tap it downward, causing the bristles to fan out. You’ll be amazed how well the dust holds in a fanned out brush. Just dip it in the jar and tap all over the cookie for a light coating. The dust deepens the color of the cookies, gives some texture, a touch of sparkle, and an almost velvety appearance.
Here’s the finished look.
I hope these add to the yummy deliciousness and beauty of your Christmas celebrations.
Disk Designer/Co-Owner at Impress! Bakeware, LLC
“Get creative with your cookie press!”
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The Christmas and Flowers Disk Sets: