Spritz are one of those classic Christmas cookies that I always look forward to consuming on a mass scale. I even like the store-bought knockoffs. "Spritz" is short for spritzgebäck, and it derives from the German word spritzen, to squirt (this makes the jaunty little name sound a bit silly, but there you are). This squirting refers to the process of making Spritz, which requires using a cookie press.
I've never made Spritz before, because I don't have a cookie press. I didn't let that get in my way this year, as I decided that all the wise bloggers out there that suggest piping Spritz with a pastry bag might know a thing or two. I got enough Spritz piped to make a dozen of these delightful, jam-filled Spritz twirls. However, when I started piping little Spritz wreaths, my bag broke. The stiff dough literally exploded the end off the bag. I kept trying to put it back on, but the dough just stretched the bag out. So, I wouldn't really recommend making Spritz with anything but a cookie press. Spritz dough needs to be kept cold and firm to keep the butterfat from separating from the rest of the dough. I didn't get my cute little wreaths-decorated-with-colored-sugar made, because after so many piping attempts and the subsequent hunt through my kitchen for another bag, the dough got too warm. I tried chilling it, but it just wasn't the same. I trashed it, but there's a good chance I acquire a cookie press within the next 24 hours and finish making dozens of Spritz.
You can tint the Spritz dough a variety of colors, and you can use various extracts to flavor it. For these twirls, I chose raspberry jam. I wanted the rich color, and I like the flavor. To accentuate the raspberry flavor, I used a blend of vanilla and lemon extracts to flavor the cookie dough. I'm very partial to this two-parts-vanilla-one-part-lemon-extract flavor combo. It's my grandmother's signature flavor blend for her baking. Making the dough, it was so easy to imagine my Grandma making her amazing pound cake. Yum. The flavor comes through beautifully on these tender cookies. It's subtle, but delicious. I love the lemon and raspberry gently contrasting each other. It would also be great to make a dozen or so twirls, then a couple dozen traditional Spritz.
Why jam-filled Spritz twirls? Well, why not? I love thumbprint cookies of all kinds, and I had made a whirled, jam-filled cookie from this fantastic cookbook I have called The Book of Afternoon Tea. Spritz are similar in texture to this recipe, and it sounded like a good idea. It's tasty, but make sure you have a really sturdy pastry bag.
- 1 C butter, room temperature
- 2/3 C confectioners' sugar
- 1 egg
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- 1/4 C raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 400º. In a large mixing bowl, beat together all ingredients except the raspberry jam, until they come together to form a stiff dough. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Working with a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, add about 1/4 of the dough to the bag at a time. Make sure the remainder of the dough stays chilled so that the butterfat does not separate from the rest of the dough; this may require some refrigeration while you pipe. Pipe the dough in spirals into the lined muffin cups, starting from the inside and working outward. Leave a small space or lower indentation in the spiral to hold the jelly; the spritz will set and hold its shape during baking. Fill the whole bottom surface of the cup. When finished piping, bake the Spritz for 6-8 minutes until they are set. The Spritz will not brown. Let cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove the cookies still in the liners from the muffin tin. Dust the Spritz with powdered sugar, then use a 1/4 teaspoon to spoon raspberry jam into the centers of the cookies.
Makes 2 dozen Spritz twirls.