Well, this was certainly starting off cookie week more with a whimper than a bang. I’m not going to say these were bad cookies – after all, even bad cookies are pretty good – but I have to admit that the standout elements, for me at least, had a lot more to do with making than eating. Generally, that’s not a selling point.
I’ll admit that these cookies made the list because a dear friend’s grandmother gifted me her vintage cookie press, and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use it ever since. Now that I’ve tried it, I would guess more modern cookie presses have certain advantages – even pressure, controlled dosing, and less metal-on-metal screeching – but I have no plans to trade in.
For me, this press is a connection to a history of hosting and hospitality, and the honor of having been included in it outweighs any of the small inconveniences. I love that every time I pull it out, I think of Grandma May and all the good memories I have made (and will, in better years, continue to make) with her. Which is good, because given my tray full of slightly lopsided spritz cookies, I’m going to need a lot more practice.
But not with this recipe.
There is nothing really wrong with it, per se, but they’re just…forgettable. And a hair dry. I certainly don’t need spritz cookies to be the showstopper of a cookie box, but I do need them to be meltingly tender with a prominent buttery note, even with other flavors in the mix. These weren’t. Maybe if I had added less lemon zest the butter would have come through more, but I don’t think even that would fix the texture problem.
I need to do more research into how exactly it would affect the recipe, but I’m thinking swapping out at least some of the granulated sugar for powdered might make the difference.
I’ll just have to make more cookies and see.
Lemon Spritz Cookies
Yield: 40-60 cookies Time: approximately 1 hour Source: Adapted, barely, from Bon Appetit
- 330 grams all-purpose flour
- 3 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
- 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
- 223 grams (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 163 grams granulated sugar
- 1 ea lemon, zest only
- 1 ea egg
- 4 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- colored sugar or sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
Beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of your stand mixer on medium-high speed (for me, this is 6) until the butter and sugar are a very pale yellow and you can only barely feel the sugar granules when you rub your fingers together (or, let’s be honest here when you taste it). You’re going to want to scrape the bowl at least twice during this time to make sure there is no dry sugar at the bottom. Pro tip: if your butter is cold and you don’t want to wait for it to come up to temp, cut it into 1/2 inch cubes and beat those in your stand mixer until there are no more lumps. Add your sugar and zest and go from there.
Scrape down your bowl and paddle. Add the egg and your vanilla and continue to beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it is almost white, has doubled in volume, and has a soft, glossy texture almost like buttercream. This will take longer than you think – my total mixing time, from adding the butter and sugar to when I was ready to add flour was probably somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.
While your eggs are incorporating, whisk your flour, baking powder, and salt together in another bowl.
Once the eggs are in and the texture is looking right, scrape down your bowl and add the flour. Mix on low until almost all the flour is incorporated. Once only small pockets of dry flour remain, stop the mixer and finish mixing the dough with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
Everyone’s cookie press is different, so it’s best to squeeze them onto sheet trays according to the instructions that came with yours. The important thing is that the cookie sheet is both ungreased and unlined. I know, this is scary, but the cookies will come off. You need the cookies to stick to the sheet so they come off the press properly, and parchment or pan spray will prevent that.
Bake the cookies until they are completely set and just starting to turn golden around the edges. Make sure to rotate your trays halfway through the baking time! For me, this took 8-10 minutes, with a rotation around the 5 minute mark.
Allow to cool completely on the pan before attempting removal.
If you don’t want to eat (or gift) these cookies right away, they will store quite well in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two months.