This sugar cookie recipe has been a tradition in my family for five decades now. My mother found this recipe in a Betty Crocker recipe book for little girls ( had to start getting them cooking early back in the 50's!) and they are really good.

Ingredients:

COMBINE the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and shortening in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the shortening into the flour, sugar, powder and salt. If a pastry blender is not available, you can use two knives, but the pastry blender is highly recommended. Using knives can be daunting and particularly exhausting. This is because the ingredients must be blended until it is full of very fine lumps.

MEASURE the egg into a measuring cup. If the egg does not add up to ¼ of a cup, add water to the egg until it does. Add the egg and vanilla into the dough and beat very well. I recommend using a spoon because the dough is thick and if you use a beater the tongs like to gather the dough and fling it more than blend it together.

BAKE the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375º for about ten minutes. The dough for these cookies is ideal for cookie presses with Christmas-shaped plate molds rather than rolling them and cutting out shapes with cookie cutters. I like to decorate them with green or red sprinkles or tiny multi-colored sugar balls.

This is completely an optional suggestion as well, but make your life a whole lot easier and get the premeasured blocks of shortening, for I find measuring out shortening and scooping it all out of the cup quite daunting and sometimes frustrating.

My mother got this recipe off the back of the box her cookie press came in when she was very young (unfortunately, the box is now incredibly old and battered, and you can no longer read the brand name), and had me start baking them when I was about ten years old. I have to say this is the best spritz recipe I have ever encountered. I make them every single year for the holidays, and everyone who’s eaten them claims that they’re delicious.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients (the flour and salt) well.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the mix. This can be slightly difficult, so I mix them with a spoon for a moment, just to get all the dry ingredients wet, then use my hands for the rest… It’s messy, but it gets the job done far better than any spoon or electric mixer.
  4. Add the almond extract to the mix. If you would like, you can separate the dough into two different piles and mix in the food coloring for an extra festive feel.
  5. Pack the dough into a cookie press, and fit with the desired disk design (preferably Christmas themed), then press the dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them approximately 1 inch apart. If you're putting sprinkles on them, now is the time to do it.
  6. Bake the cookies at 500o F (260o C) , for 3-6 minutes. WATCH THEM CLOSELY to ensure that you do not burn them! I always end up burning my first batch, because I forget to watch them.
  7. Take them off the cookie sheet immediatley, or they will continue to bake on the sheet and ultimatley end up burned, which of course, is no good. 


A word on cookie presses: There’s a lot of cookie presses out there, and it's hard to find a good one. The one that this recipe came with was a very old tin one (although I’m guessing when my mom purchased it, it was new) which is very labor intensive to use properly, but it makes such gorgeous cookies that for years I refused to try anything else. However, I just purchased a new one from Kuhn Rikon, which, after the tin press, is pretty amazing. It works very quickly, and it doesn’t get stuck like other more modern ones that I’ve tried. Ultimately when picking out a cookie press, try to find one that you're going to feel comfortable with, because you'll only get the best results with tools that you enjoy using.

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