A week or so before Christmas I would beg my mother to get out the Spritz cookie press. Making those cookies with my mom was one of my favorite holiday projects. I loved to watch her control the ornery dough and the metal press in order to make small buttery delicious cookies.
As in every other thing she cooked, my mother measured the ingredients exactly. She scraped every bit of egg out of the shell with her finger. She had the butter at perfect room temperature. And she wouldn’t let us decorate them wildly. We used small bowls of granulated sugar into which she put tiny drops of food coloring. Then she ground the sugar with the back of a spoon until it became a non-garish tint of red, green, or blue. We sprinkled it on very sparingly. The only other decorations I ever remember putting on our cookies were tiny edible silver balls and cinnamon red-hots. Those were used only in moderation and only on certain cookie shapes.
One year on Christmas Eve my mother and I packed up a tin of our cookies and drove through a snowstorm to my great aunt Ellen’s house in town. Aunt Ellen was my Grandpa Hall’s sister. She lived in a sweet house built for her by her son and daughter-in-law. Maybe it was my still-young age, or maybe the snow, or maybe the cozy glow of lights in Aunt Ellen’s house, but this evening remains one of my most magical Christmas memories. I’ve loved Spritz cookies ever since those days of baking with my mom.