Press Christmas cookies are one way to make interesting and delicious cookies for the holiday season. They do require some special equipment however and they are one of the more complex cookies to make for Christmas despite how easy it sounds to make them but this mainly comes from equipment use. I love the fact that you don't have to roll out dough.
It takes a bit of practice to make press cookies come out picture perfect. Press cookies are forced through a disk that has a cut out shape, for example a star or Christmas tree. It is forced out through the use of a plunger pressing through a long tube you load with cookie dough. The tube has a place to insert die's or the disks with the shape you want on one side and a handle on the other with a sliding top which moves down the tube in order to press the cookie dough through the disk's design. Wilton makes a great line of cookie presses that come with a wide variety of cookie shapes.
There is a variety of different cookie presses out there from simple and inexpensive to professional grade. Disks are usually not interchangeable so keep this in mind when getting your press. There are a number of recipes you can use with press cookies with a variety of ingredients. One of the common ingredients is cream cheese. If you do not have a cookie book that has press cookies in it, there are a number of websites that provide great recipes for press cookies.
Children can help you assemble the ingredients, choose the shape of the cookies, and if they have the strength, help press the cookies.
Here is a basic recipe to get you started this recipe is for whipped shortbread. Whipped shortbread is a variation of a regular shortbread recipe that has been modified to work with a cookie press.
Basic Press Cookies
1 lb butter
1 C Powdered Sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 c cornstarch
3 C all purpose flour
- Start by preheating your oven to 350 F.
- While your oven is preheating, cream butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt.
- Once these ingredients have a creamy consistence gradually, add the cornstarch and flour. Use an electric mixer to whip these ingredients till fluffy.
- Place some of the dough into the cookie press, following your cookie press' directions and press out cookies onto a cool baking sheet.
You can decorate these cookies with candied cherries, pieces of cherries, sprinklers or whatever else you might want to use for decoration the place them in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let cool at least 2 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire cooling rack. Then simply store in an airtight container.
The thing to remember with press cookies is that because they are being pressed through small openings, the dough needs to be fairly compact within the cookie press. This will help to prevent breaks in the cookies and make sure that each pressed cookie is complete. Just about any cookie recipe can be used to make press cookies however, it must be plain dough or one that has very small pieces of things like nuts and cannot be too dense like oatmeal.
Butter is the best choice over margarine or shortning because it will help the dough keep it's shape. The dough should be at room temperature but you can chill the cookie press itself.
Using a cookie press resuts in a really elegant cookie that is easy once you get the hang of it. Try the recipe above with different food coloring and your green Christmas trees or yellow stars will delight young and old alike.