Friday, May 28, 2004

Christmas Cookies

While out for my morning constitutional, I spied a garage sale and naturally was loathe to pass it up. Sure enough, not only did it have a charming assortment of baby clothes (ah, if only I knew Baby was a boy, they had the greatest little tool outfits), it had a practically-new spritz gun for $2! So I bought it.

Spritzes are those little fancy-shaped pressed cookies that turn up at Christmas. Most people, unfortunately, are only familiar with the generic white kind (perhaps with colored sprinkles for the truly venturesome) and have no idea of the varieties possible. Over many years, my family, in their relentless pursuit of Christmas cookie perfection, has developed countless striking varieties: green peppermint trees with chocolate drizzle; lemon stars with poppy seeds; cherry hearts; poinsettias, complete with leaves and yellow centers; coconut snowmen; gingerbread; orange dipped in chocolate. And then there were the stranger varieties, like the Little Green Men we made the year I accidentally put too much blue icing in the too-yellow coconut dough, and wound up with green rather than white. The next year we refined this concept and made Grinches, with little peanut butter Max the Dogs.

I love spritz. They are easier than rolled cookies and fancier than bar or drop cookies. They are vaguely Scandinavian, although they're more widely appropriated now than, say, krumkaka (which I still haven't attempted on my own, not even with my snazzy electric griddle).

And no doubt my weird aunt and older sister are recoiling with shock to imagine me thinking about Christmas cookies in May, when I ordinarily scream with horror if the topic comes up before November. (Well, I scream then, too, but I don't think it premature.)

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