I have a cookie press that I think was my great grandmother's. I actually don't know why I think that, but I've always thought that, so I hope that it is. It is an old aluminum one with a copper top. It has a few plates and you screw down the top to make the cookies. My great grandmother always made bars. She didn't make the shape cookie that people commonly think of. So, that's what I've always made as well. I was never shown how to make the shape cookies and never took the time to figure them out--until yesterday.
For Mother's Day, my children gave me a Pampered Chef cookie press. It came with 16 different plates. I was curious to see if I could successfully make some shaped cookie. I started off with a recipe from King Arthur's Cookie Book (which I've had great success with). I decided to also make my great-grandmother's recipe and compare the two.
I made the first dough and put it in the press. I tried to squeeze it once. Then I squeezed it twice. I couldn't get the cookies to come off the press. So, of course I went to the web to search for tips. I got clues, but not tips. I had to find my own way from there. I was discouraged that people pretty much hate this press. It gets horrible reviews. But, I felt determined yesterday to try and be successful with it.
After tinkering and trying, this is what I discovered works.
1) Some plates/designs work better than others.
2) Use cold cookie sheets. No parchment. If you've used a cookie sheet once, run it under cold water for a bit until it cools down and then dry it off. The cookies won't stick unless it's cool.
3) Use a yummy dough. I'm including my great-grandmother's recipe here which I got rave reviews about last night at our Bible study.
4) With the Pampered Chef press, you need to do one click (make sure it pops out), and squeeze almost until a 2nd click is made.
5) Tinker with how you come off the press. I found it worked well to take it off at an angle--like an arching motion with my hand.
6) Let the dough sit for 5 minutes to soften up if you think the dough is too stiff to press out.
I was able to successfully (after 2 cookie sheets) make spritz cookies. Some plates did work more easily than others.
Here is my great-grandmother's recipe. It does have leavening agents (though some would say spritz cookies shouldn't) and they taste lighter than the dense butter only cookies that you get with many other recipes.
Cream 1 c. butter with sugars until you have fine lumps.
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
Add and mix well:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
Add 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla.
Beat well until there are no lumps.
Use cookie press. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.