Pressed cookies originated in Scandinavia, but they have now become a favorite in many other parts of the world.
They are deceptively easy to make. All you need to do is make the cookie press recipe. The hardest part will be choosing the design.
As the name suggests, pressed cookies are made by forcing cookie dough through a cookie press fitted with a decorative plate to make fancy shapes.
As the focus is on the shape itself, decorations are usually kept to a minimum. But colored sugar, sprinkles, grated chocolate or finely chopped nuts can be used to add the finishing touches. Coloring the cookie dough itself to create brightly colored cookies is another fabulous way to jazz up your pressed cookies.
A cookie press allows you to create professional looking cookies and is the home baker's best friend. If you want to impress your friends and family definitely invest in one of these.
They come equipped with a selection of plates that will enable you to create different shapes. To use, secure the decorative plate in position, pack the container with the dough, then simply force the dough out onto the baking sheet. Out come wreaths, hearts, flowers, and butterflies.
Before placing the dough inside the press, place it on a sheet of waxed paper and roll it into a log slightly smaller than the cylinder on the cookie press. The dough will then slip easily into the press.
Cookie presses work best with a soft, pliable dough. To make the dough, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is very light. Gradually fold in the flour and stir through very gently.
Before the cookie dough can be forced through the cookie press it must be the right consistency, soft enough to be pushed through the holes, but firm enough to hold its shape.
If the mixture is too firm add a few drops of milk. If it is too soft or sticky chill in the fridge for a few minutes. But don't let the dough become too firm.
As well as being soft it must also be smooth, so leave out chunky bits of fruit or chocolate. Save these for the decorations afterwards.
Always use cold cookie trays - never warm. Otherwise, the dough won't stick to the cookie sheets and the cookies will slip when you pull the press away.
Hold the cookie press straight down on the baking sheet and push the dough through. Release the pressure just before you lift the press off the cookie.
Hold the cookie press at an angle and draw the press along the baking sheet in a straight line while forcing out the dough. Release the pressure and lift up the press.
Piped cookies are made by piping the cookies through a large piping bag. As with pressed cookies, the cookie dough needs to be soft enough to pipe but firm enough to hold its shape.
They are usually piped through a star nozzle to give that professional finish. Famous piped cookies are Viennese Swirls and Swiss Fingers.
Once you have mastered the art of piping, you will be able to make more intricate cookies such as Langues de Chats and Filigree Crowns.
Perfecting your piping technique simply takes a bit of practice, but there are a few tips that will help:
Invest in a piping kit with good quality nozzles as they will last much longer. Plastic nozzles tend to break and cheap metal nozzles can bend out of shape. You will need several different shaped nozzles, but a basic kit should contain a 1 cm / ½ inch star shaped nozzle and a 1 cm / ½ inch plain nozzle.
Fold the top of the bag over to make a "collar" then spoon in the cookie dough. Only fill the bag half way then twist the bag to remove the air.
Push the cookie dough down to the bottom of the bag. Use one hand to hold the top and the other to guide the nozzle. Using a gentle pressure pipe the desired shape. Ease off the pressure then lift up.
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