Friday, February 28, 2014

Shamrock Spritz Cookies

I love making spritz cookies, so it seemed like a great idea to make shamrock-shaped mint cookies for St. Patrick's Day.

I like eating them, of course. I mean, they're cookies. 

But it's fun (and fast) to pump them out of a cookie press into even rows. The barrel of the press makes it pretty easy to make sure you're leaving enough space for the cookies on the sheet, which is another great thing about using a press.

Spritz cookies bake quickly, so you go from "want cookies" to munching cookies in no time at all.

Spritz dough needs to be the right consistency to push it through a cookie press - it can't be too dense, or it won't go through the press, so this is one dough that you won't want to refrigerate before baking.

If you do absolutely need to make the dough ahead, let it warm up before you start shoving it through your cookie press, or it just won't work.

As much as I love buttery cookies, if you try to make these with all butter they'll spread a little too much and you'll lose a lot of design detail. These do spread a little so they might not be the best for super-detailed designs, but this recipe works well for basic shapes like flowers or for the shamrocks that I made.

When it comes to food coloring, I prefer the gel colors, since they're so concentrated. You can add a lot of color without adding much extra liquid to the recipe. If you use a liquid food coloring, you might need to add a bit of extra flour to compensate, or use just a few drops of the liquid color for a paler green cookie.

When it comes to mint flavoring, I had two different types on hand. One was peppermint (think of candy canes) and one was more like spearmint. Use whatever you have on hand, or what you like. I used the spearmint here.

Not a fan of mint? Omit it, or use a different flavor. I like almond-flavored spritz cookies, or you could go with citrus flavors or whatever else you like. There are a lot of flavors to choose from.

Shamrock Spritz Cookies
Makes about 10 dozen cookies, depending on size

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
Green food coloring, as needed
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Green decorating sugar (optional)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and have several baking sheets standing by.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric mixer in a large bowl) beat the butter until it is smooth. Add the shortening, sugar, and salt, and beat until light. Add the egg, flavorings, and food coloring and beat until well combined.

Add the flour in portions (to keep it from flying all over your kitchen when it hits the beater!) and beat until well combined.

Put the dough into your cookie press fitted with the die of your choice - you'll need to refill the press several times, so don't fret about that - and portion the dough onto your cookie sheets. I used shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day from the OXO spring disk set for their cookie press, but a leaf or flower would be nice for spring.

Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cookies are just barely browned on the edges, about 12 minutes.

Let them cool for 30 seconds or so on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.