But I may have to change my mind. Last weekend I attended the third annual Herring Run Festival. Yes, this town has herring, and has had for centuries. They even have a herring ladder, where in a good year you can watch a whole lot of herring leaping their way up on the way to…wherever herring go. People used to bring bushel baskets and collect them—for free.
This year the herring came and went a bit early, but the food vendors appeared for the festival instead. And I was impressed. There were jelly makers and cookie and bread bakers and lobster rolls and cheese and barbecue and burgers and more. Hallelujah, the town has discovered food! The place was crowded, with people of all ages, and they looked happy.
No, I don’t know how to cook herring (also known as alewives, if you’re looking at an old history book). Unless I catch my own, I’m not going to find some anyway(except pickled ones in a jar). But you already know I’m a sucker for cookies, so…meet Spritzal, a small company which celebrated its second birthday this month. They had a booth at the Herring Festival.
I was attracted by the name first. Spritzal cookies are an updated version of traditional spritz cookies. I know spritz cookies because I had a Swedish (step-)grandmother who made them from scratch every Christmas. In fact, I inherited her cookie press and have used it to make my own spritz. But the vendor said that the pressed form of the cookies is difficult to handle and relatively fragile, so it wouldn’t pack well to ship to stores. Rolling and cutting them out makes them easier to package and deliver, without losing any of the flavor or texture.
|Looks well-used, doesn't it?|
It’s a simple recipe, with only five ingredients: flour, butter, sugar and eggs, plus whatever flavoring you choose. I went for the lemon cranberry version, which includes lemon extract and dried cranberries (another local touch! Have I mentioned that we’re the corporate home of Ocean Spray?).
I found my grandmother’s press, which still has the original recipes in the box, including one for spritz cookies. But that one called for shortening (no!) and almond extract (traditional, but not the flavor I was looking for), so I swapped in butter. And I’m going to try rolling them this time.
Lemon Cranberry Spritz Cookies (a la Spritzal)
1 cup (salted) butter (2 sticks/half a pound. If you're worried about the fat content, go for half shortening and half butter.)
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
1 tsp lemon extract
1 cup dried cranberries (not the sugared kind)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. You don’t need to grease your cookie sheets because there’s so much butter in the recipe, but you can use parchment paper.
Cream the butter. Add the sugar gradually and beat until light.
Add the egg and beat well.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the mixture. Add the lemon extract.
By hand, mix in the dried cranberries (don’t use fresh ones or you’ll end up with a soggy mess!).
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut out your cookies (I used a 3” round cutter). Place on the baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Let cool on a rack.
The original recipe says this makes about 5 dozen pressed cookies. This made just shy of two dozen largish cookies. Choose a smaller cookie cutter and you'd get more, but keep them simple, because you have to cut through the cranberries.
It’s tax day, so indulge yourself with cookies! And if you don’t feel like making them yourself, order them from Spritzal!
In case you're wondering, this is not a paid endorsement (we wouldn't do that at MLK!). These cookies are just plain good!