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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Share tradition with Christmas ‘spritz’

How many of us remember the smells that wafted through the houses of family and friends during the holiday season? For me, I’m talking the early ’70s. For some of you, it may very well be the Dark Ages, but I won’t pick on you.
I will never forget the cookies fresh from the oven or the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding overshadowing the honey ham.  Once the mashed potatoes were scraped from the Kitchenaid to one of our Franciscan bowls, it was game on. We knew that there was a gallon of gravy somewhere and the stage was set. And it wasn’t just our house, it was everyone’s house.
One of my fondest Christmas memories was the annual pilgrimage we would make to Uncle Tom and Aunt Terry’s house on Christmas Eve. We lived outside of Annapolis and they lived outside of D.C. All in all, it was a 45-minute drive, but as children it felt like an eternity.
But once we got there, we knew there would be a mountain of food, with brie wrapped in puff pastry being one of my favorites. The kids would retire downstairs to race the Green Machines on the concrete floor and, of course, we would scout out the stack of presents under the tree in the basement.
Upstairs, the table would be set with cheese and crackers, a fantastic meal seeing as how Tom was and is quite the gourmand, and it would be finished with divinity, spritz cookies, preacher’s cookies and fruit cake.
Of course, like 99 percent of the rest of the country, I never personally warmed up to the fruitcake. I agree with Johnny Carson that there are only three actual fruit cakes in the world, and they just keep getting re-gifted since no one eats them.
One of my favorite holiday treats on the table was the plate of spritz cookies, which I haven’t made since I was a little kid. Once I was old enough, it was definitely not cool to bake cookies with your mother, but as a younger tot, I remember the process, the tools and, of course, eating the broken pieces and mistakes. After all, we couldn’t leave a mess, could we?
Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic because this is our first year without our mother. Maybe I’m just tired of looking at the spritz press as it collects dust without us ever using it. Or maybe I just want to eat some spritz cookies, which I haven’t done in a very, very long time.
Whatever the reason, I know that this is going to be a worthwhile endeavor, so I’ll wait for the kids to come home so they can help me. Hopefully, they’ll enjoy it as much as I did when I was younger.
As we packed up from a night of dinner, drinking (we had to stick with soda), presents, Green Machines and frivolities at Tom and Terry’s, it was time to pack into the Polara station wagon and make the long trek home. There was a buzz in the air, since we knew that we were only one more wakeup to Santa. A quite palpable tension flew through the car until one by one, we all fell asleep; except for our father, who, of course, was driving.
I always pretended to be asleep when we got home, because having my dad carry me inside still remains one of my favorite memories of him. It was the only time during the year that this great courtesy would be bestowed, so I took advantage of it until he finally said “enough.”
I’m excited that the house now smells like Christmas cookies, and I’m thrilled to know that I’m sharing a tradition with my kids as it was shared with me. Holidays and family, what a wonderful thing.
Spritz Cookies
Makes about 60 cookies
2 cups Cake flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 cup Unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. Almond extract
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
Food coloring and sprinkles, optional

1. A slight variation to the original recipe is to replace parchment paper with buttered baking sheets. When chilled in refrigerator, the butter helps to hold onto the dough as you pull the press upwards
2. Preheat an oven to 350F.
3. Sift together the flour and the salt. Set aside.
4. Put butter in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until soft.
5. Slowly add sugar and beat on medium speed until it is creamy and light.
6. Turn the mixer on low and add egg yolk and extracts, mixing until well combined.
7. Add flour in a steady stream and combine.
8. You can leave it as is, add some food coloring, or split it into three batches. The first keep plain, the next use red food coloring and the third use green food coloring. This is a simple way to add a great deal of color to the cookie tray.
9. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when pressing the cookies. Make sure to change out the press tip so that you have multiple designs. This is the great thing about spritz cookies. They’re so easy to make!
10. Decorate with sprinkles or anything that you like.
11. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through and just lightly coloring.
12. Cool on a rack and serve.
Source: MSN Food & Drink App