The cookie press is just one example. kitchen toolsThat I forgot exists up until now holidayEach year, season comes around. I don’t own one — I probably haven’t even touched one since I was a kid when, during the lead-up to Christmas, my mom would extract hers from the inconvenient depths of a cupboard — but few things evoke holiday nostalgia for me quite like spritz cookies.
It was my selection of extrusion metal discs that made the magic. While it was an important step to scatter them across the countertop, my favorite part about the tree was the one I liked best. This was my favorite way to enjoy it, row after row and branch by branch.The cookie is topped with a sprinkle of green crystals to add crunch and texture.
Our spritz cookies were made with cream cheese. Childhood-me, whose favorite book to page through in our Oregon home was the 1988 edition of the “Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cookbook” — the silver-jacketed one with a big cherry cheesecake on the cover — was delighted.
Today, 37-year-old-me lives in Germany and was bummed when Bavaria’s Christmas markets were canceled for the second year in a row. In an attempt to bolster my holiday spirits, I purchased a copy of “Advent: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas.” It’s an ethereally beautiful book — one that made me want to book a trip to Germany even though I already live here — and seeing a section on spritzgebäck (squirt cookies; the German language is nothing if not literal) delivered the warm, fuzzy feelings I’d hoped to evoke with my perusing.
Author Anja Dunk, Welsh-born to a German mother, writes that spritz cookies “are one of the more classic Advent biscuits, and are usually made in big batches.” This tracks with my memories, at least in terms of quantity. Cream cheese was not a common ingredient in German baking culture, as my childhood home did not celebrate Advent.
“I don’t believe there is only one type of spritzgebäck,” Dunk told me when I reached out to ask her thoughts on what makes a “real” spritz cookie. “I think the beauty lies in the very fact that they can be done in myriad different ways.”
From using ground almonds (Dunk’s preference) to marzipan, cream cheese to corn flour, anything goes as long as the dough can make its way through the press — a tool that also varies.
“The main difference between how spritz cookies are made in the United States and Germany is that in Germany, you primarily use a fleischwolfThe front of the mincer has a cookie attachment. In the States, it’s more common to use a cookie press,” Dunk explained.
Although my mom admitted to not knowing what happened with the cookie presse I recollect from my childhood, she now has it. a new pressThis is not a mincer. I’m pleased to see that her choice includes an array of discs, including the tree shape that is popular beyond my own (excellent) taste.
Amber LoughOmar, an American friend who now lives in Germany, said that trees were her favourite. “I remember the honor bestowed upon those of us allowed to choose the next shape,” she said, and explained how her mom would color the dough green and sprinkle the cookies with green sugar crystals.
A self-described Navy brat, Lough’s family moved frequently, but the cookie press was always in tow. “We would make plates of spritz cookies (alongside ginger cookies we iced and decorated) and take them to our neighbors. In Japan, they were a huge hit,” she said.
Poking around in the memories of others quickly revealed that these little bakes aren’t nearly as old-school as I thought. Yes, they are traditional in the best sense, but not as an obsolete relic.
It seemed so until Johan, my Swedish husband asked about his memories of spritz cookies.
“I have no idea what those would even be,” he said.
This wasn’t the answer I had hoped for. There’s a widely held belief that spritz cookies either originated inThese words were most popularized in Scandinavia. Sometimes they’re even referred to as Swedish butter cookiesOder Swedish spritz cookies, though the internet at large can’t seem to agree on their roots. ArticlesBlog posts, recipe headings, and other content often end up with a description about shared credit. this Southern Living piece wherein spritz cookies are explained as “originating in Germany and Scandinavia in the 16th century.”
I had to question this assertion so I sought out Ulrika my mother in law.
“Has a cookie press like this ever been a thing in Swedish baking?” I asked her over text message, cutting right to the chase with a photo of a vintage press.
“Absolutely! My grandma had exactly that one!” she confirmed. Ulrika immediately sent Ulrika an image of it. Spritsa Kabor (yes, that’s “spritz cookies” in Swedish)You can find more information ats shown in a well-loved 1952 copy of “Sju Sorters Kakor,” an iconic book in Sweden that translates to “seven types of cookies,” dating from a time when it was customary to offer guests exactly seven varietiesSmall cookies
Though my husband’s lack of awareness of spritz cookies is a conversation I’ll need to take up with his mother at another time, this information was validating. I did have one other baking expert to call before giving up on the idea and declaring it untrue.
“I’m not sure if spritz cookies originated in Germany or Scandinavia,” said Luisa Weiss, Berlin-based author of the much-beloved “Classic German Baking.” “The fact that they’re called spritzgebäck here and spritz cookies in the U.S. would imply that they originated in Germany, but I can’t be entirely sure.”
Weiss believes that the spritz cookie may have come from Scandinavia. She also points out that there are spritz cookies that have been made in Italy.
“Some call them sandgebäck because of the sandy, melting texture the cookies have,” she added after explaining that spritzgebäckHere is a more informal definition of professional terminology dressiergebäck, or “dressing biscuits.”
It’s here that I could thicken the plot and mention sandbakkelsA sandy-textured product Norwegian cookieHand-press into small tins. And surely I’d be remiss not to include mention of Royal DanskYou can layer butter cookies year after year with confidence in your blue tins.
With mixed origins and so many naming conventions, it’s no wonder that the spritz cookies we know and love in the United States left a hazy westward trail. That is what we do know. more than 2 million Scandinavians — those from Norway, Sweden or Denmark — immigrated to the U.S. between 1820 and 1920. This is the number of German-born immigrants who immigrated to America in that same time frame. about 7 million. Clearly, each culture’s culinary traditions followed.
“My mom’s family came from Germany during the mid-to-late 1800s, and she grew up in a predominately German neighborhood in Milwaukee,” said Jenny DraiThe author, who lives in Germany but was born in Illinois, fondly recalls the cookie presse. “I also very clearly remember that [my mom] made two shapes, wreaths and candy canes, then sprinkled them with green and red sprinkles.”
Drai assumes the spritz cookies were a family tradition, and told me that the flavor — which she suspects is almond extract — is a big part of the nostalgia for her.
Whether it’s the shape, taste or the press itself, it’s clear that spritz cookies are an enduring favorite. I’m even considering the purchase of a press of my own to return to the tradition, though I’ll probably share the yield with friends lest I consume a forest of spritz trees.
And I doubt they’ll complain.
“Spritzgebäck seem to be a universally loved cookie,” Dunk said. “No matter where you’re from or how old you are, everyone appears to love them.”
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