Spritz cookies are one of my family’s specialties, and I was thrilled when my parents sent me a cookie press for Christmas last year. I entered an updated version of our tree-shaped almond spritz in 2016 Holiday Cookie edition of the The Great Book Larder Bakeoff. I got a lot of “my grandma used to make that!”–or as my friend P put it, “What Midwestern plunger magic is this?”
It’s true–nothing says “Christmas cookie” to the Ohioan like spritz. So, to accompany today’s very Midwestern holiday cookie recipe, here are some organizations that support queer rights and reproductive justice in the general vicinity of my hometown in southern Ohio.
Feast On Equality (Kentucky).
Tommy Arnold, a gay man living in Louisville (pronounced “Louie-ville” or “Loo-vull”), started hosting Thanksgiving dinners for LGBTQ students at the University of Louisville. He now hosts a fundraising dinner several times a year for Feast on Equality, which provides funding to a certificate program to teach doctors about the needs of LGBTQ patients, support the LGBT Center at the University of Louisville, and LGBTQ students who are struggling financially. Read more at NBC.
Heartland Trans* Wellness Group (Ohio+).
This Cincinnati-based NPO services 13 Midwestern states* to educate healthcare providers, businesses, and individuals about trans and LGBTQPIA (P= pansexual), as well as offering community groups and social support for trans individuals.
*Even if the Great Lakes Midwest and the Plains Midwest can’t agree that we’re a large region with a lot of subsections…
Ohio has a constant onslaught of legal “debate” around basic human rights, especially surrounding reproductive justice and LGBTQIA rights. With yet another “heartbeat bill” moving forward, a Dayton abortion provider shut down, no statewide protection for LGBTQ people, no way for trans individuals to change their gender on their birth certificate, and a “pastor protection” act in the the works to preserve the fragile feelings of bigots, Ohio needs a lot of help to protect civil liberties by making sure marginalized groups are protected by laws that are actually enforced.
Spritz are light, slightly crisp shortbread cookies. While spritz refers to any cookie pressed through a cookie press, I associate it most with the green almond-flavored Christmas-tree cookies my mom makes every year.
The manufacturer of my cookie press claims that spritz are “skill level: none,” but you have to know what you’re doing to get them to turn out. If you overdevelop the gluten, the dough will jam the press. Too soft and they won’t come out neatly. The pan needs to be ungreased and cold for the dough to stick to it.
A note about the time: this is pretty labor intensive–I have to bake about 5 cookie sheets’ worth to get them all out. You need at least 3 baking sheets (4 would be ideal) so you have time to let the cookies cool and then time to pop the sheets back in the fridge or freezer. Skill level zero, indeed.
Yields: ~100 cookies
Time: Total: ~2 hours
Making the dough: 20 minutes
Prep work (pressing cookies and decorating): 35 minutes
Cooking: 50-60 minutes (for 5 cookie sheets)
1.5 cups (345 g / 3 sticks / 12 oz ) butter, at room temperature (should be soft but not melted)
1 cup (200 g / 7 oz) granulated sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 drops of green food coloring (or to taste)
3.5 cups (440 g / 15.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 TBSP (30 mL) milk
Sprinkles of choice–I used multi-colored nonpareils, sanding sugar, and tree-shaped sprinkles
Cookie press with tree disk (I use the Wilton Cookie Max)
Stand mixer (recommended) or hand mixer
3-4 aluminum cookie sheets (not non-stick)
1 medium bowl
1 large bowl, if using a hand mixer
2-3 cookie racks
1. Place cookie sheets in the refrigerator to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
3. In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In the stand-mixer bowl (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), cream butter and sugar together on medium for 7 minutes until light and fluffy.
5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicon spatula. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and food coloring, then beat on medium for 5-7 minutes.
6. Remove bowl from stand mixer (or set aside the hand mixer) and mix in the milk and flour gradually with a spoon so as not to overdevelop the gluten. When the dough is combined and no dry flour remains.
7. Do not chill–fill the cookie press with dough (I use a spoon for this), attach the tree disk. On an ungreased cookie sheet (no non-stick sprays, no parchment paper!), press out the cookies, about 1-inch apart. Usually one click of the plunger is enough–it sometimes takes a couple tries to get the first one out.
8. Bake 10-12 minutes or just till the edges start to turn light golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes by setting the cookie sheet on a cooling rack. Gently remove from sheet; cool completely. When the sheet is cool enough, clean it and return it to the fridge before pressing more cookies on it.
9. Store cookies in an air-tight container (good for about 10 days).