Pressed cookies are one of my most favorite cookies to make. The recipe is simple, the pressing out of the shapes is fun, and you can do so many things with them. Also, the recipe makes 12 dozen cookies–yes, 12 dozen. Seriously.
This is the recipe I’ve always used when I want to make a zillion cookies that look special. If you never used a cookie press before, it’s an awesome tool. It’s basically a dough “gun” that you use to shoot out precisely measured amounts of dough into shapes. It’s a brilliant concept and one that lets you make terrific looking and tasting cookies with a minimum of muss and fuss.
I got my cookie press at Christmastime over 11 years ago when I was hugely pregnant with Girlfriend (she was born in January). I was nesting like crazy and I wanted to make cookies for the mailman, the garbage man, the recyling guy, etc. So, I got the press and made a zillion cookies in one afternoon. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that is quite a feat for someone at the end of pregnancy. I was exhausted and my ankles were swollen, but I was extremely proud of myself. And the cookies were (and always are) a hit!
My cookie press, which is like this one, came with 20 cookie disks
and also came with a set of decorating tips. Every year I make a batch of pressed butter cookies and every year I am reminded of which disks are my favorites. The cookies this recipe makes are lighter than air and extremely fragile, so it turns out that certain shapes work better than others. I’ve found that the shapes where all the parts stick together are best for this recipe. These are some of my favorite shapes:
Isn’t it fascinating how the disk holes translate into the different shapes? It’s always a fun surprise! Girlfriend thinks the second one from the bottom looks like a pill bug. Yum. Experiment and see what shapes you like. It takes a tiny bit of practice to get the hang of pressing out the cookies–but once you learn, it goes fast. I usually set up an assembly-line type of thing where I have 3 cookie sheets in different stages of the process. You don’t need to grease or line your cookie sheets. When the process is in action, I have 1 sheet in the oven, 1 sheet cooling and waiting to be moved the the wire cooling rack, and 1 sheet of pressed dough ready to go into the oven when the baked ones come out. Repeat. You need to brush off the crumbs after each baking and be sure not to press dough onto hot sheets–cool each down before you press out a new batch. I find that 2 dozen cookies fits on each sheet, so I bake 6 batches of 24.
I’ve adapted many recipes over the years, but the recipe I really like is from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas. I love this book! It’s got all sorts of recipes that are from my childhood. I’m not Scandinavian myself, but the Scandinavian culture has such a rich baking tradition. And baking for holidays is a niche in which they really excel! I’ve added an additional part to the recipe–melted semi-sweet chocolate to make chocolate-bottomed and chocolate sandwich cookies.
Pressed Butter Cookies, Gluten-Free (edited 12/14/10 to add instructions for eggs)
-adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas
-makes about 12 dozen cookies (yes, 12 dozen)
Special Equipment Needed
-a stand mixer is quite helpful, but a hand mixer will do in a pinch
Note:this recipe uses my gf flour mix, Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in a cool, dark place):
1 1/4 C (170g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (205g) white rice flour
1 C (120g) tapioca flour
1 C (165g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko or glutinous rice flour)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the cookies)
1 1/2 C butter (3 sticks; 12 oz; 340g) unsalted butter (or butter substitute), softened
3/4 C (150g) granulated sugar
3 large or extra large egg yolks (save your whites and make Meringue Cookies)
3 C (420g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 tsp vanilla extract
1C (6oz; 170g) semi sweet chocolate chips (optional–you will use these to make sandwich cookies)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat more until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beat after each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add flour and beat until combined.
Now comes the fun part. Prepare your cookie press. Lift the dough press part until it’s all the way at the top. The fill the tube with the dough (your press should come with directions on how to do that). Fit the disk of your choice into the bottom part and screw on tightly. Now press the gun part (it will click each time you press the handle) until you see dough just pressing against the disk at the bottom.
Now you’re ready to press out dough. Place the end of the press firmly and evenly against the ungreased cookie sheet and press once on the gun.
Lift your cookie press. If the dough was adequately pressed against the disk, you should have a nice cookie shape on the sheet. If no dough stuck or if the shape is wonky, just pick it up with your hand and throw it back into the bowl of dough (I told you–easy). Press out enough cookies to cover a cookie sheet, leaving about 2″ in between each cookie to allow for spread:
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until they are just barely brown. Remove from oven and let cool before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. They are extremely delicate–be careful! If the dough starts seeming too squishy to make defined shapes, stick it in the refrigerator for a few mintues to firm up a tiny bit.
Once the cookies are completely cool you can play with them. I like to brush melted chocolate on the bottoms of some and put melted chocolate in between some to make sandwich cookies. If you want to do this, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips over extremely low heat until just barely melted. Remove from heat and use a whisk to mix and make smooth.
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. With a butter knife, spread a bit of melted chocolate on the bottoms of some of your cookies and press, chocolate side down, onto the wax paper. Also, spread a bit of melted chocolate on the bottom of one shape and then press the bottom of another cookie of the same shape onto the chocolate for sandwich cookies. Or drizzle chocolate on top of shapes. Be creative!
Store in an airtight container.
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