On Friday night, Anise got together and made Christmas spritz cookies with lemon powdered sugar icing adapted from her mom’s “The Great American Cookie Cookbook” of 2001. It’s a fantastic book, and I want a copy. We converted the recipes to gluten & dairy free, and it will be very easy to make them vegan (see my note below).

Earlier that night I went to Ross, the overstock store, and found some great kitchen gadgets that I’ve been wanting for a while and priced less than on Amazon. I found new spritz cookie dispenser with 16 cookie stencils, a frosting dispenser/decorator with five different tips and a vegetable spiral slicer for making vegan noodles! I was shocked, amazed and absolutely tickled pink. Yea! What great finds! Then I went to the local book store next door and found the newish Gluten-Free Cake Mix Doctor cookbook also for a terrific price. Ha, ha! I felt accomplished, and we hadn’t even started baking yet.

Spritz History
-Spritzgebäck is a traditional German and Scandinavian Christmas cookie have been made by parents with and for their children. There are several different family recipes out there that have been passed down through the generations, eventually coming across to America as people emigrated from northern Europe.
-According to McCalls Magazine’s (December 1994) article, “America’s Best Holiday Cookies”, spritz cookies became widely popular throughout Europe by the 16th century. Germany, Sweden and Norway each had their own recipe versions: respectively Spritzgebäck (buttery), Papparkakor (spicy ginger) and Krumkake (lemon and cardamom). The Dutch brought them to North America in the early 17th century.
-Spritzen is German for to spray, squirt, extrude, shoot, inject (like into a mold). Gebacken means baked. The umlauts over the “a” in Spritzgeback makes it plural. (Thank you Leo German Dictionary – http://dict.leo.org/)

If you want a more traditional full look to your cookies, do not use apple sauce or other purees. You have to use a whole cup of butter for the cookies to spread out. Otherwise your cookies may look a bit pokey where they detached from the dough mass in the press. The cookies should come out buttery, stiff, dry and fragile.

Christmas Spritz Cookies
Yields:
about 5 dozen

Ingredients
2 ¼ C Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp Xanthan Gum
¼ tsp Sea Salt, crushed small
1 ¼ C Powdered Sugar
½ C Apple Sauce, at room temperature
½ C Coconut Butter or Canola Oil Spread, softened (not melted)
1 Large Egg, shelled, at room temperature*
1 tsp Almond Extract, non-alcoholic
1 tsp Vanilla Extract, non-alcoholic
Green Food Coloring, as needed, optional
Red Food Coloring, as needed, optional
Candied Red and Green Cherries or Other Fruit Bits
Assorted Decorative Candies
Assorted Decorative Sanding Sugars
Powdered Sugar Icing, optional

*or 1 Golden Flax Egg or White Chia Egg (1 T ground seeds mixed with ¼ cup filtered water; use more water if needed to obtain egg-like consistency)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In medium bowl, stir flour, gum and salt together. Set aside. In large bowl, cream sugar, apple sauce and butter with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Mix in the egg and extracts. Gradually add about a quarter of the flour mixture at a time, thoroughly beating after each addition to smooth out any lumps. You may need to add some extra flour a little at a time, since gluten-free flours tend to make doughs more sticky and wet.

If you want colorful cookies, divide the dough into two bowls. Tint half of the dough green and the other red, adding enough dye to create the shades you want. Baking the dough will not significantly affect the colors.

Coat your hands with flour. Fit the cookie press with the first stencil plate. Fill the dispenser with dough using a your fingers or a spoon. We found it easier to use our fingers, so that we could more easily fill up the press and get out all of the air pockets. Put the plate and cap on the end. Press the dough onto your ungreased cookie sheets with about an inch between the cookies. You can switch plates half way between each batch or whenever you run out of your first color; we ended up using four different stencils. Don’t take too long between pressings though; this dough really started drying out much faster than I wanted. At this point, you can decorate the cookies with fruit and candies or wait until after baking and icing them.

Bake the cookies on the center oven rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool the cookies on wire racks. (I kept breaking the wreath cookies, since the dough didn’t spread enough.) Prepare the icing, if you are using it. Pipe or drizzle (like we did) on the icing. Decorate with candies and sugars. Eat them or hang them on your tree.

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Note: You can also press out long curls or tails of dough, kind of like churros, and either cover them in sprinkles, powdered sugar or dip them in melted chocolate once they are cool. Over in the ChefKoch (Koch means cook or chef.) forum there’s a topic, called Frieda’s Favorite Spritz Cookies. It’s in German, but there are some nice pictures.

Additional Spritz Flavor Ideas (from What’s Cooking America)
Almond Spritz – Substitute more almond extract for the vanilla extract.
Caramel Spritz – Substitute the powdered sugar in the dough with brown sugar. Use the dark brown cane sugar for a richer flavor.
Chocolate Spritz – Add 2 ounces melted room temperature unsweetened chocolate to the creamed sugar, or substitute ¼ cup cacao powder for ¼ cup flour, adding the flour mixture to the sugared eggs as normal.
Coffee Spritz – Add a tablespoon instant coffee and ¼ cup chopped pecans to the sugar mixture.
Lemon Spritz – Substitute a tablespoon of lemon juice for the almond extract, and add a teaspoon of lemon zest.
Lime Spritz – Substitute a tablespoon of lime juice for the almond extract, and add a teaspoon of lime zest.
Orange Spritz – Add a tablespoon of orange zest to the flour mixture.
Peanut Butter Spritz – Only use 2/3 cup of butter or spread, and add ½ cup peanut butter.
Marbled Spritz – Fill half of the tube with one dough color or flavor along one side and another color or flavor along the other side. (I tried marbling by adding the two dough colors in layers, which didn’t work too well, but that might have been due to the dough drying out and stiffening up.)
Here are even more recipes at Cooks.com.

Powdered Sugar Icing
Yields:
about 2 cups icing

Ingredients
2 C Powdered Sugar
2-3 T Non-Dairy Milk, more necessary
Food Coloring, as needed

Directions
In a small mixing bowl, mix the sugar and milk with a spoon until smooth, adding a little bit of liquid at a time to reach your desired consistency. Add more milk if the icing is still too thick. If you like mix in food coloring to reach the shades you want to use to decorate the cookies. Make sure you pipe or drizzle only few cookies at a time before sprinkling on the sugars and candies or else the decorations will not stick. This icing dries rather quickly.

More Icing Flavors (From What’s Cooking America)
Rum Icing –
Substitute the milk with ½ tsp rum extract and 4 tablespoons filtered water.
Lemon Icing – Substitute lemon juice for the milk.
Vanilla Icing – Add a teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract to the plain icing.
Apple Icing – Substitute the milk with 2 to 3 tablespoons of apple juice and 1 to 2 tablespoons of filtered water. Start with 2 tablespoons of juice and one tablespoon of water; add one more tablespoon of juice or water, depending on your preferred flavor strength. (This can also be done with other juices.)

We had a ton of fun making these cookies. Which versions have you tried?

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