Whether decorating a momentous cake or piping out colorful meringues, I’ve been known to giggle with excitement and even get teary-eyed when using my pastry bag. It is far from being a kitchen necessity, but it creates such beauty and brings such joy, from edible roses to personalized birthdays. Frankly, I’m surprised it took me this long to think of filling my pastry bag with cookie dough, but it was bound to happen eventually.
I remembered those old fashioned spritz cookies, which — from what I’ve seen — tend to be made in a cookie press at about the size of an Oreo. It wasn’t long before I started experimenting and created a new spritz dough, utilizing the classic elements (sugar, flour, butter, egg) but in my own ratios, using a trusty pastry bag rather than a press.
I decided on a miniature format — bite-sized tiny stars — and added a bit of vanilla bean and plenty of extra salt. After trying some unusual additions and icings, I opted to let the simple scrumptiousness of these cookies shine on its own. The result was a crispy, buttery, utterly addictive treat, all with the perfect balance of salty and sweet. A true crowd-pleaser, these little goodies are dangerously delicious!
Mini Salted Spritz Cookies (makes 55-60 little 1-1.25″ cookies)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, warmed until very soft (but not melted)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 egg yolk at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons table salt, divided
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla bean powder or paste, or 1/4 teaspoon seeds scraped from a vanilla bean pod
- **Medium to large pastry bag, fitted with a jumbo star tip, such as Ateco #846
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and 1/3 cup of the sugar until smooth. Mix in the yolk until completely incorporated. Add vanilla bean; stir until evenly dispersed. Sift the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt over the bowl. Mix until dough holds together in a large ball (it will seem dry at first; using warm hands can be easiest). Transfer dough to pastry bag. Pipe stars onto the lined baking sheets, keeping them about 1 – 1.25″ in diameter, leaving 3/4″ between each one. If your dough is too stiff to pipe (this can happen if dough is cool), set the filled pastry bag in a warm place, perhaps near the hot oven, for a few minutes.
Once cookies are piped, thoroughly whisk the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and teaspoon of salt together in a small bowl. Sprinkle it over the cookies, using up to 1/4 teaspoon per cookie, or a little less depending on your taste. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes on cookie sheets before devouring.
Despite the simplicity of the their ingredients, these little spritz cookies overflow with rich, buttery tones in an irresistibly crisp, pop-in-your-mouth form. Speckled with fragrant vanilla bean, the harmony of salt and sugar is hard to step away from, much like attempting to eat a single potato chip or piece of popcorn. This is not likely a problem, since you probably have most of their ingredients on hand and can bake up another batch in no time. I have a feeling you’ll want to.
**Maybe next time… If you don’t have a pastry bag or don’t want to deal with one, simply shape dough by hand into marble sized balls weighing about 5 grams a piece. Press down their centers gently, to slightly flatten the cookies, before baking. (By doing so, you can add the finely grated zest of a lemon or orange to the dough if you’d like, since it can’t get stuck in a piping tip.) I found this cookie dough very satisfying as-is, and felt that it was quick to become overpowered when I played with creative additions. Having said this, the sky’s the limit with spices (cinnamon, cardamom, and/or nutmeg come to mind) as well as glazes. For the latter, very gradually add rum, bourbon, or lemon juice to a cup of powdered sugar (add the liquid by the teaspoon, whisking after each addition, until pasty and just pourable, but still rather thick). Drizzle over cooled cookies by the spoonful, and let dry into a crisp shell. Melted chocolate would also be delicious.