Every year when December rolled around, my brother, Kurt, and I would eagerly wait for the arrival of a package. Normally it would show up on our doorstep a few weeks before Christmas, wrapped in brown Kraft paper and haphazardly taped and postmarked. Kurt and I would see our address written in our grandmother’s cursive, and just like that, our stomachs would start growling, and we would salivate in sweet anticipation.
Because we knew what was inside: cookies. And lots of them.
After hauling the box in the kitchen and extracting the brightly colored tins, we’d open them to find a smörgåsbord of baked goods. Wax paper lined layers of cookies laced with sugar, chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla, sprinkles, nuts, and butter stared up at us, taunting us with their sweetness. What would we pick first? And how could we pick just one?
We never picked just one. Thank goodness she sent multiple tins.
Inevitably, no matter what cookies I would select to sample first, these Spritz Butter Cookies would be among them. They’re just the right amount of sweet, and they’ve got just the right amount of crunch, and they’ve` got just the right amount of butter. Well . . . let’s be honest . . . they’ve got a lot of butter. They’re rich and decadent and so butter-laden that there’s no way these are good for you, but hey, who cares? It’s Christmas. And to me, Christmas means cookies. (And we don’t want any cookies to go to waste, right? Christmastime is way too joyful to be that tragic.)
The arrival of my grandmother’s cookies was always an event, a heart-warming welcome to Christmas. While I may not have known it at the time, every cookie was not only full of butter, but they were also full of my grandmother’s love. “Always cook with love,” she would say.
And she always did. Whether it was zucchini bread or Spritz cookies, love was always her not-so-secret ingredient.
While my grandmother is no longer around to send us Christmas cookies, every year since my daughter, Zoey, was able to help, we’ve baked these cookies. We bake them in honor of my grandmother, in celebration of Christmas, and as a way to create a tradition that we will share in years to come. I love that my nostalgia for these cookies and my desire to keep this tradition alive means that one day she, too, will be nostalgic for them as well. Our first memories of them will be different, but they will both be sweet and wonderful and, of course, buttery.
Spritz Butter Cookies*
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
Food coloring (optional)
Sugar sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, continuously beating. Gradually add flour, beating until well incorporated. If using food coloring or sugar sprinkles, add in now.
Place dough in a cookie press with desired disk. Press dough out onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges. Rotate baking sheet halfway through baking time.
*This nostalgic recipe requires a cookie press. There are many different types of cookie presses, but we used the OXO Good Grips Cookie Press, which worked well for us. And word to the wise, it makes A LOT of cookies. (But you don’t need two packages of flour. That was wishful thinking on Z’s part.)
Now it’s your turn fellow nostalgia seekers.
What are the nostalgic cookie recipes you love and cherish?
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