Things to Do in January on the OBX

13th Annual Outer Banks Wedding Weekend and Expo
January 7 – 9
First Flight High School. Meet, select and work with an amazing group of professionals dedicated to making your wedding a beautiful experience for you and all your guests. Over 120 vendors. outerbanksweddingassoc.org

John Brown Orchestra
January 22
First Flight High School Auditorium. 7:30 p.m. Relish the incredible sounds of this Grammy®-nominated bassist, composer, educator and actor, John Brown. The North Carolina native has performed across the globe with renowned artists. His first album as leader spent 16 consecutive weeks and reached #8 on the national JazzWeek chart and he is among the few who have had two releases appear simultaneously in their Top 40. outerbanksforum.org

Spritz Holiday Cookies

Spritz Cookies Recipe   
 

 Spritz Cookies, also known as Swedish Butter Cookies or Pressed Butter Cookies, are a very popular Christmas cookie, not only in Scandinavia, but also here in North America. They have a lovely vanilla flavor and a rich buttery texture that is tender crisp. As their name implies, “Spritz” is German for “spritzen” meaning “to squirt”, which is exactly what is done with this cookie dough. By that I mean we make these cookies using a cookie press (gun), a device that has a cylindrical barrel made of clear plastic and stainless steel with an easy-to-squeeze trigger, that “squirts” the soft dough through a decorative template giving us all sorts of wonderful looking cookies. We can make wreaths, flowers, trees, rosettes, stars, and stripes, to name a few. And while they are delicious plain, they look so pretty when decorated with candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or colored sugars.

Spritz Cookies contain only a few ingredients, butter, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, and flour. Some recipes

include baking powder, but I find that the cookies maintain their shape better without it. This cookie needs a good unsalted butter and pure vanilla extract. I know that buying vanilla extract can be a challenge since it is very expensive and there are so many choices. I will admit that my first choice is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract that can be found in specialty food stores and by mail order. But there are other good choices that you can buy in regular grocery stores. Just make sure that it is labeled “pure”, and stay away from the ones labeled “imitation” vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter aftertaste. 
When you mix the Spritz dough it is simply a matter of creaming the butter with the sugar, beating in the vanilla extract and egg, and then the flour. The dough needs to be of the right consistency. You want it soft enough so it pushes easily through the cookie press, but not so soft that the shape is not defined. If you find it too soft, then refrigerate the dough for a while. Now, if you do not own a cookie press, you can make these cookies using a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. I like to decorate the cookies with pieces of candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or colored sugars

. Bake the Spritz Cookies until the edges of the cookies are just tinged with brown. These cookies can be stored about a week at room temperature or they can be frozen.

Spritz Cookies:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. You will need two ungreased baking sheets.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. On low speed, gradually add the flour and salt and mix until incorporated.

To Press Cookies: Scrape some of the dough into your cookie press that has been fitted with a decorative plate (follow manufacturer’s instructions). Hold the cookie press perpendicular to the ungreased baking sheet, with the tip almost touching the sheet, and squeeze the trigger. (If you find the dough is too soft, because the shape of the cookies is not clearly defined, then chill the dough.) Continue to press out the cookies, spacing about 1 inch apart. If desired, decorate the cookies with pieces of candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or colored sugars.

To Pipe Cookies: Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch diameter open star tip. Fill the pastry bag about half full, twist the end of the bag to close, and pipe 1 1/2 inch (3.5 cm) rosettes or stars by holding the pastry bag perpendicular to the ungreased baking sheet, with the tip almost touching the sheet. Squeeze the pastry bag firmly and evenly without moving it until the shape is the desired size. Stop squeezing and push the pastry bag down a little and then lift the pastry bag straight up. Continue to pipe cookies, spacing about 1 inch apart. If desired, decorate the cookies with pieces of candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or colored sugars.

Bake cookies for about 6-9 minutes or just until the edges of the cookies are barely tinged with brown. Remove from oven and gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. These cookies will keep at room temperature for about one week or they can be frozen for several months.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

 

Spritz Cookies:

1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Garnish:

candied cherries, nuts, colored sprinkles or colored sugars