The pressure is on, Dear Readers! Press cookie making season is upon us and that means only one thing! What you may ask? It means it's time I broke (yet another) press cookie machine of course!
Over the years, I have owned (and broken) several different styles of cookies presses. I don't know what happens or what I do wrong. You know the style that you turn by hand? The one your mother or grandmother had? They are aluminum and/or copper usually and are a bit dented because they are typically passed down for generations and generations. You know what I'm talking about? Yep. Broke a few of those. Then there are the modern ones. Yep. Broke all those too. I am currently working on breaking a model from Switzerland I acquired, new, from a yard sale recently. Like most products from Switzerland, It's slick-looking and easy to use but, unfortunately, it did not perform well. The pumpkin shape did not work at all and the bats I was able to make, all look like they need to be on diets! Of course, in anticipation of how wonderfully the slick-looking Swiss cookie press should have worked, I made a double batch of the dough; so, I have bazillions of press cookies, ALL shaped like bats! I decorated the tops with different sugars but still, that's a lot of bats! I thought about making stars and decorating them with black and/or purple sugars decided to save that frustrating experience for Christmas. I mean, why spoil ALL the fun now?
I sound like I'm complaining about making press cookies but really, I am not. I love to make them because press cookies remind me of my childhood. I love to make them because press cookie making always signified my brothers and I were home for the Christmas holidays! We had two whole weeks of Christmas vacation! (It was even called "Christmas Vacation" in those days! Can you imagine?) We'd decorate the house and we'd bake. We brought home all the Christmas projects from school we'd made in the weeks leading up to Christmas Vacation like Santas with cotton ball beards and construction paper Christmas chains, and use them to decorate the house. Don't know what a construction paper Christmas chain is? It's a paper chain, made from different colors of construction paper, linked together. Each day, one of the links is broken off until you get to the last link. The last link means Christmas is the next day! I loved making those silly Christmas chains! Anyway, as I was saying, we'd decorate and we'd bake. We'd bake all kinds of cookies! It was heavenly to be home with my family.
Among the cookies my mother, Ellen, made were press cookies. Mom would make tray after tray of press cookies during the holidays. She'd make two types of dough, the almond-flavored one and the caramel-flavored one made with brown sugar and vanilla. The almond dough was made into trees and snowmen and the caramel dough was made into camels and stars. (Funny how each flavor of dough had a designated shape.) My mother always let me help too. It was my job to gather the ingredients and I got to add the extracts to each type of dough. When both doughs were made, Mom would press out all the cookies before the decorating began. She'd send us off to collect the sugars and other toppings from the pantry, just as I do with our girls. My brothers and I would return with little sugar dots and bright red and green sugars. (In those days, there were not all the decorative toppings available there are today.) Mom would portion out each type of sugar and toppings into little Pyrex bowls and each bowl got a tiny "decorating" spoon. Then, the decorating extravaganza would begin! We would make a HUGE mess but Mom never got mad. She'd just decorate and laugh right along with us. Then, she'd divide up the last of the dough between us and let us use it to make anything we wanted. We'd write our names or make 3-D Santas with intricate details such as curly beards and bushy eyebrows. It was the 1970's, so, my brothers would make skateboard or electric guitar shapes and I would make Holly Hobbie bonnets and figures. (Gosh those were innocent and fun times!) Anyway, we were allowed to put as much sugar and other decorations our hearts desired on top. There was never a limit! I think those cookies we made had just as much sugar decoration as dough! I still do this with our girls! Even my husband gets in on the decorating just as my father used to once upon a time.
See why I still keep buying press cookie machines? See why I still make press cookies? Press cookie making is a family tradition. I know I will be finding and picking up the little rollie ball sugar decorations from the floor for weeks but it's all worth it! After all, Lollipop, our dog, deserves to be in on the fun too!
Do you have a cookie making experience that brings back fond memories? Please share it in the comments section.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor