Sunday, December 20, 2015

52 Ancestors #51: Mom's Spritz Cookies

Ancestor Name: Dorothy Ailein (Lange) Jennings (1930-2014)

Mom was a great cook. I think one of the best heirlooms I received when she died was her recipe book. For years and years she spent the month of December baking Christmas cookies. She loved to try new cookie recipes during this time. There were always new types of cookies. Some made her annual rotation and some did not. A family favorite, however, was Mom's Spritz cookies.

Spritz cookies similar to those Mom used to make; source unknown

Spritz cookies, more officially known as Spritzgeb├Ąck, is a type of German and Alsatian Christmas biscuit or cookie made of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. Wikipedia says, "When made correctly, the cookies are crisp, fragile, somewhat dry, and buttery. The German verb spritzen means to squirt in English. As the name implies, these cookies are made by extruding, or 'squirting,' the dough with a press made of patterned holes or with a cake decorator, or pastry bag, to which a variety of nozzles may be fitted. In the United States, the name Spritzgeb├Ąck is often shortened to spritz becoming known as the spritz cookie."

Many people add flavor extracts; others add chocolate to their recipes. Some people add icing or sprinkles to decorate them. Many families, I'm sure, have a much treasured version of this cookie recipe. What we all loved about Mom's version was the buttery, crispy flavor. To make them crispy she used a star-shaped hole with her cookie press and shaped them like a capital S.

These cookies bring back so many memories...of a night over the holidays when my middle brother, cousin, and I went out on the town. When we returned, my cousin and I stood in Mom's laundry room, where she stored her Christmas baking, and ate all the Spritz cookies. Or of last year when I saw this post from my youngest brother on Facebook:

"Missing Mom as Christmas nears, so I decided to honor her by -- of all things -- baking Spritz cookies! I found a recipe online and gave it a try. Kind of bland to be honest. Maybe it's the recipe, maybe it's the cook? My penmanship isn't as good as Mom's either."

Maybe it was because Mom didn't make them.

My brother's attempt at baking Spritz cookies; Facebook

His wife was visiting her mother, helping her prepare for the holidays. When she saw my brother's Facebook post, she emailed me for Mom's recipe. I sent her to my online recipe website and she and her mother made Spritz cookies, wrapped them up for Christmas and gave them to my brother. She sent me a photograph when they were fresh out of the oven.

Spritz cookies; photograph courtesy of Celeste Jennings

Mom's Spritz cookie recipe:

1 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cream butter and and sugar until well blended; blend in egg and almond extract. Mix in flour. Put dough in a cookie press and use star-shaped pattern. Shape each cookie into capital S.

Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 to 9 minutes on next to top shelf.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Nice.