We had a treat day at work on Friday, since it was the last day before vacation. It’s not a Christmas party (we already had one of those) or a holiday luncheon (we had one of those, too), but more of an open holiday grazing. On treat days everybody brings in something, we set it all in the kitchen or on a table in the conference room, and everyone goes in and out whenever they’re hungry and gets something to eat. We had veggie trays, fruit trays, sausage balls, chips, homemade cheese balls, ham dip, and I decided to make cookies with my cookie gun.
Last time I went to visit my friend Sandy we stopped at Crate and Barrel, and I got a cookie press on sale. When I was little, my mom used to make spritz cookies with her cookie press every Christmas, and I remember them as being neat little uniform bite sized cookies. Tragically, as often happens when I try to make things like mom did, something broke down somewhere.
The dough part was fine. I made the standard recipe, than split it in half and colored one half green:
I put vanilla flavoring in the white half and mint flavoring in the green. Next time I do that, I’ll use twice as much flavoring, because it seemed like most of it cooked out. After flavoring and coloring the dough, I stuffed the press and started trying to make snowflakes.
While all snowflakes are unique, I was disheartened to note that mine definitely were. I expected slight differences, but I thought they would mostly look the same. They didn’t.
I chalked it up to beginner’s error of some sort, and thought maybe after another sheet or two I would get better. Instead, the white cookies just got worse and worse. They weren’t the same size, they didn’t always stick to the sheets, and I got more and more annoyed. By the time I got to the tree cookies I was ready to just give up on the press and make them round and be done with it, but then I had a breakthrough, halfway through a sheet:
On the left, disaster. On the right, perfection.
It turns out that I wasn’t squeezing the extra air out of the press before starting, which was making the dough come out unevenly. (The instructions never told me to do this, so I had to figure it out on my own. Luckily, I had years of Play Doh experience to draw on.) Then, because I was reusing the cookie sheets (I only have two), it didn’t occur to me to wipe them down in between, so each cookie that baked was leaving a little slick spot from the butter and the dough coming out of the press wouldn’t stick to it. Each batch was, inadvertently, greasing the sheet instead of the capitalized UNGREASED that the recipe demanded. As the picture shows, once I figured that out I was golden, and eventually I had about eight dozen cookies.
Granted, some were a little overdone, and some were a little (or a lot) oddly shaped, but overall it didn’t seem like a bad night’s work. Just as I was sighing with contentment and a sense of accomplishment, I realized I’d forgotten to buy frosting. I didn’t feel like going back to the store, especially after spending two hours fighting with the cookie press, and then I remembered that frosting didn’t always come in a can, and there had to be some way to make it yourself. Rather than running for the internet, I went to a proven source:
The 1949 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, which I picked up a few years ago for two dollars at an estate sale. Since that’s less than the cost of a can of frosting, that cookbook just paid for itself. After a quick perusal of the frosting section, I found a recipe for confectioners’ sugar glaze:
Maybe a half hour later, I finished work on the cookies:
Everyone loved them. There were less than ten of us in the office on Friday, and we still managed to eat five or six dozen of the cookies on top of all the other food. Next time, rather than trying to flavor the hell out of the cookies, I bet I could just add the peppermint flavoring to the glaze, and it would go a lot further.