What would a Christmas cookie tray be without the buttery little morsel that is the spritz cookie? Not everyone loves a thickly iced sugar cookie or a spicy gingerbread (although I sure do!), but spritz cookies always seem to have mass appeal. I mean, what's not to love? They're sweet, buttery, bite-sized and come in all sorts of novelty shapes - and they're the favorites of grandmas and church potluck bakers everywhere.
Of course, if I want there to be any chance of Matt liking a new recipe these days, I have to include chocolate. One of his favorite cookies of all time is the Cool Mint Oreo, and so the idea for a choco-peppermint spritz sandwich cookie was born. I made one or two in a regular Oreo shape, too, but the pressed cookies were so much more fun.
Unfortunately, in my excitement about contributing these Christmas classics to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies party, I completely overlooked the fact that they can be a right pain to make - especially when you don't have a non-nonstick baking sheet (how was I unaware of this deficiency in my kitchen arsenal until now?).
Thankfully, the end product turned out pretty cute and very tasty. The peppermint filling is even better than its Oreo inspiration - in my not-so-humble opinion - since it contains crushed peppermint candies for extra minty goodness. A word to the wise: don't skimp on the cocoa in this recipe - its smoky flavor makes for a great contrast with the brightness of the peppermint.
Rich Chocolate Spritz Cookies
based on this recipe from The Prepared Pantry
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream together the butter and sugars, in the bowl of a stand mixer, until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix until well combined.
Stir in the dry ingredients incrementally, taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir until smooth and well blended. Dough will be stiff.
Spoon the dough into a cookie press and press onto an ungreased baking sheet (stoneware works, too, but you'll need to increase the baking time). If dough refuses to stick, chill baking sheet in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes and try again. Leave about 1/2 inch between cookies and bake for 6-8 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are no longer glossy and feel dry when lightly pressed. Remove cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a clean countertop or, for crisper cookies, a wire rack.
Peppermint Swirl Sandwich Cookie Filling
Confession time - I didn't actually use a recipe (no surprises there, I guess!) but I can give you some guidelines to make the tastiest peppermint filling ever. I had Cool Mint Oreos on the brain when I created this recipe (Matt loves them so I was trying for a homemade substitute) and I really think this filling came close.
Approx. 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 - 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (as needed to achieve the desired consistency)
2-4 drops peppermint extract (as desired)
Crushed peppermint candies
Red food coloring (optional)
Stir butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and peppermint extract to form a thick, smooth paste. Add powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency (think extra thick Oreo filling). Stir in crushed candies. Divide filling in half and tint one half with red food coloring. Roll each half into a log (or as near a log as possible) and then roll the two logs together, creating a swirl pattern. Slice filling into discs and sandwich between two cookies, pressing gently against a countertop or other level surface to cement together.
A few notes: It had been a long time since I'd made spritz cookies, and this recipe just served to remind me why! Sure, they're delicious, but they're also kind of a pain to make - especially if you don't have a non-nonstick baking sheet. Chilling your baking sheets prior to use helps a little, but the best answer is just to have patience! Of course, it probably didn't help that my cookie press is older than I am. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of today's models - and it's a real treat to clean afterwords - but it's a family treasure, and that makes these cookies taste even better!
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