This post is sponsored by J.R. Watkins. In exchange for writing this post, I received the products used to develop my recipe. As always, all content and opinions are my own, and I'm a longtime fan of J.R. Watkins products.
Sugar cookies, shaped like Christmas trees, with piped icing garland and a garnish of festive sprinkles. Gingerbread men with chocolate chip eyes and cinnamon candy buttons. Those round buttery cookies filled with chopped nuts and rolled in powdered sugar, called Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes or Snowballs, depending on your generation and geographic origin. Neat squares of fudge nestled next to pieces of peppermint bark. A Christmas cookie tray is a place of tradition, almost as hallowed as the Thanksgiving dinner--the same classic favorites, repeated year after year.
My family's Christmas cookie spread has always included spritz cookies, a buttery cookie that's made by extruding dough through a cookie press. I prefer the vintage metal cookie presses with a crank on top, over the newfangled models with a lever. But while I'm a staunch traditionalist about my cookie-making equipment, I do like to play with flavors, and this year I had the opportunity to develop some new twists on this classic Christmas cookie with J.R. Watkins extracts and spices.
J.R. Watkins is based right here in Minnesota, and they've been crafting natural products since 1868. In addition to bath and body, home care, and health products, J.R. Watkins has a full line of extracts and spices. Extracts range from classic vanilla (I buy it by the 11-ounce bottle) to intriguing flavors like coffee, lime, rosemary, and even pumpkin spice. The spice lineup includes everything you'll need for holiday baking, from allspice and ginger to extra-potent Saigon Cinnamon.
After a bit of experimentation, I settled on flavoring my spritz cookies with a combination of orange extract and cinnamon. The orange and cinnamon have a coziness that pairs well with the richness of a buttery spritz cookie, and they add a unique flavor to a Christmas cookie tray. I've also included a recipe variation for Cardamom Almond Spritz. Spritz cookies often include almond extract, but in this version I've doubled the usual amount for more pronounced flavor and added a touch of cardamom for a Scandinavian note.
Yield: approximately 7 dozen cookies
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons J.R. Watkins Ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons J.R. Watkins Pure Orange Extract
- 1 teaspoon J.R. Watkins Pure Vanilla Extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix flour, cinnamon, and baking powder in a medium bowl until well-combined.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer or spoon until softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the egg, orange extract, and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.
Press the dough through a cookie press onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.
Cool cookies on wire racks and store tightly covered at room temperature.
Variation: For Cardamom Almond Spritz Cookies, substitute 1 teaspoon J.R. Watkins Pure Ground Cardamom for the cinnamon, and substitute 1 teaspoon J.R. Watkins Pure Almond Extract for the orange extract.