The holidays are all about traditions. Pretty much every family has their own traditions. Many traditions revolve around food. I know so many of my family's traditions do.
One of my most favorite holiday traditions are these butter cookies. For as long as I can remember these cookies were a part of every single Christmas. I don't think there has been a year that we haven't made these. I can remember as a kid how exciting it was the day my mom pulled down the cookie shooter. I can still see the blue Styrofoam box it came in.
Some people call these Spritz cookies. We call them butter cookies. Whatever you call them, they are delicious. They are not exactly the easiest cookie to make. They are time consuming and the cookie press takes some getting used to. My mom used to make hundreds of these cookies and would fill tins with them to give our teachers as gifts. How she did that with three little kids underfoot without losing her mind is beyond me! But I'm grateful for her patience!
Now I love making these cookies every year. Making them with my kids brings me back to a happy place in my childhood.
To make these cookies you first have to cream 2 sticks of butter. The butter must be softened to room temperature which means letting it sit on the counter for a few hours. You can't soften it in the microwave because if it melts even the tiniest bit the dough will not be right. These are fussy cookies.
Once the butter is good and creamed you gradually add in 1/2 cup of sugar and beat it. Then you add in 1 egg and the secret ingredient...1 tsp. almond extract. This is what gives these cookies their distinct flavor! Evan is my little chef and loves to help me in the kitchen! Those are his hands on the beater :-).
After the eggs and extract are in you slowly begin to beat in the flour.At this point you will need to turn off the beater and switch to a wooden spoon or a nice heavy spatula. I really like this one. It's from Pampered Chef and is perfect for the job!
Keep adding flour until you have added a total of 2 1/3 cups. The batter will be pretty stiff.
Once the dough is thoroughly mixed it's time to fill the cookie press. This one from Wilton is the best one I have tried (and I have tried many)! It costs $10 and you can pretty much get it anywhere. I got mine at WalMart.
The press comes with 12 different discs so you can make whatever shapes you want. For Christmas I like to stick to the cute little trees and the little flower looking things. I love red hots and those little flowers have a spot in the middle just made for a red hot!
If you have a kid hanging around you can have them sprinkle green sugar on your trees.
When they're ready, bake them at 350 for about 12 minutes. They should still be pretty pale. You really don't want them to brown.
Once they're done you can wrap them up in cute little boxes to give away as gifts or you can just eat them by the handful until they're gone like I do :-).
These cookies freeze really well which means you can make them a month or two in advance. They also keep for a long time and are great for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or dessert. I heart these little cookies!
2 sticks butter, softened 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg 1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/3 cup flour
Cream butter. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and almond extract. Gradually blend in flour. Fill cookie press with dough. Form desired shapes on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.