Spruce Spritz Cookies: A Piece of Cake #46
The first of three new cookie recipes this week.
This is the first of three new cookie recipes. I’ll send a new recipe each day, for the next two days.
Historically, I make a lot of cookies in the month of December. (I am very unique in that way.) I’ve made a ton of gorgeous cookies over the years: watercolored, sugared, piped, and filled. And while I love an intricately decorated cookie, what it always comes down to for me is eating. So this year, I’m serving eating cookies. Three new recipes for eating cookies. Yes, they’re each pretty in their own understated way, but more importantly, each recipe makes a lot of cookies. Because if you’re baking during the holiday season, volume is key.
To kick off our cookie trio, let’s start with a classic volume baking cookie: the spritz. It’s a small, buttery treat, shot onto a baking sheet from a cookie press. Because nothing says “the holidays” like a single-use tool you only pull out once a year. Ideally, a cookie press allows for the production of dozens of tiny pretty cookies in very little time, with very little effort. I ordered a cheap cookie press online for these cookies, and it was serviceable but unimpressive, so I will not even bother to link it. I have heard good things about the OXO press, but Kendra Vaculin of BA & Epicurious told me the only good cookie press is an old cookie press, and I’m inclined to agree. So if your grandma has one buried in the back of a cupboard, dig it out. It’s likely to do a better job than anything you’ll pick up today.
Speaking of old cookie presses, the first cookie press can be traced back to 16th century Germany. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some enterprising baker took one look at Gutenberg’s press and was like, “Now waaaait a minute.” If you do not have a cookie press, old or new, piping little wreaths with a star tip will also do the trick.
Spritz cookies were already on my recipe development docket when Rose Levy Beranbaum released a recipe over on Epicurious. Her method includes corn starch, which tenderizes the gluten and creates a truly lovely cookie. And who am I to argue with Rose Levy Beranbaum? Her seminal book, The Cake Bible, coincidently published in the year of my birth, has been a go-to reference my entire life. So here you will find a closely adapted version of her recipe, but with one big wintery flavor addition. Spruce.
Nearly all species of pine are edible, which I learned about five years ago when spruce tips started popping up all over the food and beverage world. I had a bottle of Clear Creek Distillery’s Douglas Fir Brandy kicking around for a couple of years and it was delish. But for these cookies, I went with RB Flavor Spruce Essence. I had used their root beer flavor in the past and was really happy with it. In addition to the bottled stuff, I ground up two tablespoons of fresh pine needles. I just trimmed some needles off of the Fraser fir decorating our living room, then washed and dried them before grinding.
The double-spruce flavoring gives you a cookie that feels familiar and surprising at the same time. Your brain doesn’t know quite how to process it. Is it minty? Or herbal? It tastes like the holidays in a very unexpected way. What I do know is, we could not stop popping the little buttery bites into our mouths.
These cookies are great on their own, but they’re truly special when sandwiched with my Chocolate Caramel Sauce from APC issue #12. Try it.