Making Butter Spritz Cookies

The butter spritz is a grandma mainstay. Simple, rich, lightly sweet and crumbly, two or three and a pot of tea will see you through an entire afternoon of family gab. This stiff dough is commonly used in cookie presses or “spritz guns”. I learned to make them with a pastry bag and tip, so that’s what I’m going to do. The shapes take me back to neighborhood bakeries in Chicago.

The dough is a snap to make. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle. Cream the mixture on medium high until it’s light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg.

Stir in the flour.

And lastly add any flavoring you like. I do almond extract and lemon zest.

I like big spritz cookies so I use a monster tip and a sturdy cloth bag (the dough is so stiff plastic bags often break).

Tips of this size don’t need couplers. You just cut a hole in the end of the bag big enough so it pokes out an inch or so…

…then fill it up and start piping. If the dough is impossibly stiff, or if you’re seeing large cracks along the edges of your shapes, unload the bag and stir a tablespoon or so of milk into the dough. You don’t want too loosen it up to the point that the shapes melt away in the oven, so be a little careful. You’ll squeeze hard…but trust me, you’ll put back all the calories you lose with the exertion. I do straight shapes…

…and these simple stars by extruding the dough and turning the bag slightly. You can do a fair amount of variation with these two shapes alone. However I should add that should you want to stop half way through and do some chocolate spritz, just add about three tablespoons of cocoa powder to the remaining dough and keep piping. If you want to get really nutty, put blobs of both chocolate and vanilla into the same bag and pipe bi-color!

Chocolate drops are great for the centers, or jam or candied cherries. Or you can just use sprinkles. Bake the shapes on separate pans so they brown evenly, about 8-10 minutes for these larger ones. Cool them completely on a rack.

I dip mine in a very cheap “coating chocolate”. I know there are one or two people out there who — ehem — might disagree with me. However the mild taste of the chocolate doesn’t overpower the butter or the hints of lemon. Also it doesn’t leave any cocoa butter streaks when it firms. If you decide to go with a higher-end chocolate, refrigerate the dipped cookies as soon as you finish a tray to minimize the streaking.

If you really want to guild the lily, spread raspberry jam on half of one…

…make a little sandwich…

…and dip the whole thing in chocolate.

That little love torpedo will do you for at least a day. Talk about a butter rush!

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55 Responses to Making Butter Spritz Cookies

  1. GeekLady says:

    If you use a cookie press for these (and I did because I don’t have a bag big and sturdy enough for this dough), chill your cookie sheets for about 30 minutes before pressing the cookies. Then put the cookie press square on the cold pan, trigger, count to 3, and pull up. Most of the time, the cookie will release from the press.

    Cookie presses are evil. I’m sending the one I borrowed back to my mom and investing in a good, sturdy cloth bag.

    • joepastry says:

      Nice. GL! Thanks for the tip!

      - Joe

      • LML says:

        Thank you, Geek Lady for this idea! I have puzzled over the ‘why’ of never having a moment’s difficulty making these cookies in SD but endless frustration in FL. I thought it was the dough …

  2. BrianShaw says:

    What a great childhood memory. If I close my eyes I can taste them — YUM! This year I decided to not make cookies. Fruitcake and fudge (four different kinds). Maybe tomorrow I will be making these cookies. Thanks Joe… and that’s not the “sarcastic thanks” but a sincere thanks… I really mean thanks. :)

    • joepastry says:

      I read you loud and clear, Brian! Thanks to you!

      And have a very Merry Christmas.

      - Joe

  3. OB says:

    My heart bleeds just looking at these, Joe. My dear departed mother made these for decades. She used to call them “petit four” (many people in these parts refer to these cookies as such – in fact, one Iraqi baker in a previous neighbourhood had a placard reading BT4 (no letter “P” in Arabic). Although jam filling was a given, chocolate was never used. Instead, some cookies would be made with cocoa powder, and you’d get white on white, brown on brown, or brown on white, etc.. I used to get her to bake them that little bit extra so they achieved a golden brown colour. The photos bring back so many memories. Happy holidays!!!

    • joepastry says:

      Ooh! You reminded me of something that I left out — an option to put in cocoa powder. Silly me! I’ll have to write that in.

      But thanks for these terrific memories. BT4, I love that. Merry Christmas!

      - Joe

  4. Frankly says:

    I have not made these in years though I still have the cookie gun around someplace. I tried rolling these out one time & taking a springerle roller to it. I found if I was careful I could pull it off. I guess I just think I’m too good for these cookies now ;) Need something more complex. But they are darn nice cookies, I should make u an excuse to bake up a batch once we are over the Christmas glut.

    • joepastry says:

      Let me know if you do, Frankly! Yeah these are simple, but very sincere.

      Good luck with the glut and have a Merry Christmas!

      - Joe

  5. Andrew says:

    Oh my gosh, the recipe sounds so simple that I had to dig out my pastry bag I bought ages ago. Will a Wilton 32 star tip work? (If not, I’m definitely saving the recipe and looking for a huge tip like yours next time I go shopping! :) )

  6. Gwyneth says:

    I got a cookie press for Christmas a few years ago and I love it. It took a while to find a good recipe but once I did there’s no turning back. I like the idea of a cloth piping bag and will try to find one in the new year. Generally a good batter will come out of the press and stick to the cookie tray directly. I’ve tried using parchment paper but the butter content and technique allow for unlined trays!

  7. bina says:

    These look great, Joe. I used to make them in my younger days when I was stronger and better co-ordinated. I even used to line up vanilla and chocolate doughs in my cookie press and make two-tone cookies to the delight of my kids. Now I stick to chocolate chip but I can dream can’t I?

    Merry Christmas from Hong Kong. Hope you , Mrs. Pastry and the little pastries have a great 2014.

    • joepastry says:

      Thanks so much, Bina! A Merry Christmas to you as well. All the best to you and yours!

      - Joe

  8. Nicole says:

    Grandma staple indeed! Mine used to buy the big tin filled with these cookies and offer them to us, only she didn’t much care for them herself. So she referred to them as “crummy cookies!” I’m not much of a fan of them, either, but I love to see them, as the sight of “crummy cookies” always makes me think of my spitfire grandmother. Thanks for the memory, Joe :)

    • joepastry says:

      Hehe…my pleasure, Nicole! Your grandma sounds like a character…I love people like that.

      Cheers and Merry Christmas!

      - Joe

  9. Barbarainnc says:

    Made some Spritz cookies for my hubby. It was cheaper to make them, than to buy the cookies in the blue can. :) :)

    The recipe you posted on Dec. 18th said to bake at 400* and this recipe on making them says to bake at 375*. Just wondering?

    Wishing you and Mrs. Pastry and children, a Merry Christmas. :)

    • joepastry says:

      It’s definitely 400. Srry about that, Barbara!

      And you have a Merry Christmas yourself! ;)

      - Joe

  10. Dani says:

    My grandma routinely used a meat grinder (a dedicated one) to extrude these, as she always did quintuple batches to give away. Some older German meat grinders even came with a variation of shapes for the opening, we only had a star tip. The ones with jam are my favorite :) . Merry Christmas

  11. rainey says:

    I’m not making much in the way of cookies this year. But I just finished making my Christmas dessert http://food52.com/recipes/22302-brooklyn-blackout-semifreddo-cake

    I can’t bake anything anymore without thinking of you, Joe. You add so much to my baking and my reading and, basically, my life. Thanks for everything! You’re the best and I wish you and your family the merriest ever!

    I’m hoping to nail sourdough bread in the coming year. Nice holey open crumb crispy crusted sourdough. Maybe that’s something you’ll get interested in too. ;>

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

    • joepastry says:

      Whoa, does that ever look amazing. And my goodness, Rainey, you made my day! The site wouldn’t be the same without you.

      All the same to you and yours and we’ll get into bread next year, methinks. I’d love to make a truly sour sourdough here in Kentucky. If it can be done I want to do it!

      Your friend,

      - Joe

      • rainey says:

        Hey, Joe, if this comes up on your radar after Christmas, have you got any tips for pouring ganache over a frozen cake?

        I wanted a nice sleek finish instead of the coating of crumbs the recipe called for but what I managed was pretty gloppy and miss-y. I prepared 150% of the ganache called for and let the cake warm a bit but that wasn’t the ticket.

        If you are having a wonderful family time and don’t get to this I’m sure we will have found that it tasted just as good and that there wasn’t much left over to reproach me. ;>

        Merry Christmas again. You’re The Best™!!!

        • joepastry says:

          Trademarked even! ;) Thanks Rainey!

          Tell me about what was underneath the ganache. Was it an American-style cake layer?

          I’ll be on the road to Chicago and hanging there over the next several days, but there’s always time for thinking about baking!

          - Joe

          • rainey says:

            Oh thank you. Joe, for thinking about this over your holiday.

            The top layer was frozen cake and the ganache did OK over the top. The sides were alternate layers of frozen cake and mousse. All of it was out of the freezer for 9o minutes or so in a hope that the surfaces wouldn’t instantly seize the chocolate. Nevertheless, the ganache ran down the sides in thick ribbons which I tried to smooth left and right.

            I considered that a crumb coat as it were and made a second ganache that I hoped would move over the whole surface more smoothly. That just glopped down more thickly melting some of the 90˚ at the top/sides as it did. I called it a day at that point. I’m sure that’s why the original recipe called for the cake crumbs to disguise that but I was hoping for a sleek rather than a fuzzy look.

            Oh well, it wasn’t nearly as apparent when it was on everyones’ plates.

            Have a great time with the fan!

          • joepastry says:

            Hey Rainey!

            If the cake was quite tall (more than about three inches) and with rough sides I don’t wonder why you had some trouble. In general I tend to worry less about the temperature of the cake than the consistency of the ganache. I have it quite warm and runny before the pour since it’ll thicken some when it hits the frozen layer.

            Of course that poses some problems if you have exposed mousse on the sides, and that’s where a crumb coat comes in. Sometimes a thin layer of jam, if it’s good and cold and gummy (warm when it goes on of course) will be enough to protect the mousse for the few seconds it’ll take for ganache to firm.

            But once you pour you’re fairly committed regardless. Any more than a little pushing or spreading will mar the finish as again you’ve already discovered. But I don’t think there’s any shame in a rustic finish of smooth drips. In fact I think that looks kinda cool!

            Does this help?

            - Joe

          • rainey says:

            Yes, it does.

            The cake is indeed tall — probably in the neighborhood of 5″. And I have considered adding peanut butter to the flavor of the mousse. I’m assuming then that a layer of peanut butter could be as good as jam. Or jam could add an interesting note as well. Either way, sounds good

            Thanks! I’m going to try that when I make this again.

            Hope Chicago has many delights in store for the Pastries. ;>

  12. Jim Hu says:

    ok, I know there must be a baking step in there somewhere…

  13. Jeannine says:

    Merry Christmas, Joe! I hope you and your family have a lovely time, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for another year of yummy education. Looking forward to reading you in 2014. ^^

    • joepastry says:

      What a delightful thing to wake up to, Jeanine!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours! And I’ll see you next year!

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  14. BrianShaw says:

    My favorite part(s) is(are) the jimmies and the sprinkles!

  15. Roger says:

    So I guess I’ll have to wait until next year for the big item I was hoping for (ahem)… in the meantime, I guess I’ll have to make some piles of cookies! Life is so hard (/sarcasm)…

    Merry Christmas to all (and to all a good night)!

  16. These cookies are just amazing. Chocolate, strawberry jam and butter …What a flavorsome combo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love <3
    Thanks
    cookiecutter.com/wedding.aspx

    • joepastry says:

      It’s not Christmas around here without them!

      Thanks for the comment, Aleesha!

      - Joe

  17. You can say grandma mainstay again! Interesting choice of the cloth bag and metal tip. An unconventional method for spritz cookies but I admire the craftiness :) I especially like the jelly and chocolate dip touch. I’m going to throw this into the lineup!

    • joepastry says:

      Hehe…great to hear, Vera! I lived in the Cities for five years and loved it. The pastry bag technique is standard in Chicago, but it’s a lot of work. I forgot the U-shape, which I just saw in my sister-in-law’s house. Shame on me!

      Cheers and thanks for the comment!

      - Joe

  18. Sandi says:

    2 or 3? Seriously? Who can stop at 2 or 3? Not me, not in over 50 years, lol. My sister has picked up the torch since Grama passed 21 years ago. She keeps offering to teach me, but I’ve seen how quickly she puts a batch together and that is SO not something I need to know. They’re worse than potato chips for me and I’m a crunchy salty snacker from waaaay back. She still uses Grama’s cookie press. It works great for her. She can bang out a 5 dz batch quicker than people can use those frozen Toll House hockey pucks.

    • joepastry says:

      I have a similar problem with Cheezits, so I completely get it. Fortunately it sounds like sis can always whip out a batch in an emergency to satisfy that monkey on your back! ;)

      Cheers and thanks!

      - Joe

  19. ascanius1 says:

    you’re just being silly about the cheap chocolate.

    you can use a good quality milk chocolate with a fine taste without overpowering this kind of cookie’s buttery flavors. no need at all to use inferior tasting chocolate.

    • joepastry says:

      I am being silly in part. However the average home baker doesn’t have easy access to the range of chocolates that professionals do. They also don’t have the budget very often. It’s a viable option, and one I frequently employ! ;)

      - Joe

      • ascanius1 says:

        i don’t know about that.

        ghirardelli milk chocolate is pretty good and available in most supermarkets. it costs only slightly more than the cheap stuff.

        using cheap chocolate coating actually detracts from this kind of cookie and makes it taste more like an industrial product.

  20. Caroline says:

    This recipe looks great! Can it be made with a hand mixer? If yes, would it be with a paddle attachment or the regular egg beater ones?

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Caroline!

      This dough is probably too stiff for a hand mixer, but a bowl and a wooden spoon will work great!

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  21. Caroline says:

    Thank you!

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