Friday, December 4, 2015

Midweek Roundup: "Perfect for Any Time of the Year"

According to the revised calendar, this week was Pumpkin Pecan Pie week.  But the original calendar said it was Spritz Butter Cookies, and that's what almost everyone made.

It really is a wonderful recipe!  As Orin pointed out, "this recipe made its original appearance in Rose's Christmas Cookies," and "it's easy, fast, and uses ingredients everyone has at home."  I don't think anyone had any real problems with these cookies, and the differences in results mainly stemmed from what device was used to shape them and how they were decorated.  All good.  Orin used a cookie press designed just for this cookie, making four different shapes, and decorating them with cherries, sprinkles, and dragees.

Katya also praised the recipe as being "reliably excellent," (how can you help but love a recipe that's both reliable and excellent?)  Katya used Luxardo cherries, which I'd never heard of before, but which bills itself as "the original Maraschino cherries."  Now I find out I've been using fake Maraschino cherries for all these years?  And not paying $20 a bottle for them.  Katya was amused by a toddler who didn't nibble at the edge of his cookie, but "aimed his teeth directly at the center of the cookie."  The child probably knew how luxurious the cherries were.

Such is the versatility of this spritz recipe that you can even use it to make "spritzless" cookies, as Vicki did.  She just rolled them into balls and pressed them with a fork, a la peanut butter cookies minus the peanut butter.  This wasn't necessarily a purposeful decision, but arose out of a missing cookie press.  Even without the press (or a pastry bag), it's still the "quintessential biscuit for a Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down," something which is highly underrated in the U.S.

Kristina not only has a cookie press, she has the set that may have been used by her husband, Jay, since he was a wee lad and made his own first spritz cookie, something he claims cannot be improved upon.  What with the Christmas tree and the first batch of Spritz cookies, the household was quite festive.  I should warn people, however, that Kristina, perversely inspired by Jay's claim that all spritz cookies, has set out to make some bad spritzes.  I don't know whether to root for her or not.

Jen definitely did not make bad Spritz cookies, but she did, using her piping equipment, make a maddeningly slow batch of cookies, prompting a brief meditation on the nature of impatience and the nature of toddlers.  From where I sit, Jen's plate of cookies looks festive as all get-out, even though she says they were made by a "clumsy piper" and two grumpy sugar sprinklers.

Jen gets double credit this week since she made the pumpkin pecan pie that was or was not this week's assignment.  She baked a pie even though she couldn't find her pie pan.  (I think we're all getting very creative when we run into a lack of equipment or some ingredient.  I wonder if Rose is impressed by our ingenuity or annoyed by our failure to read the directions.  You don't have to answer that, Rose).  Anyway, Jen used a cake pan, which apparently has its flaws as a stand-in cake pan.  Nevertheless, Jen proclaimed the cake/pie "really delicious," although "crying out for bourbon."

Aimee rounds out this week's roster with the Pumpkin Pecan pie.  To say that this pie faced some obstacles in being accepted is an understatement.  In Aimee's family, pumpkin pie means Mamie Eisenhower's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, which recipe is so old that it calls for raw eggs.   Other people, poor souls who think a proper pumpkin pie should be baked, are less impressed with Mrs. Eisenhower's pie.  Since family members are so opinionated, Aimee wasn't even going to bother trying to give them a taste of the P-P pie, but she relented when she tasted it herself and found out how good it was.  And surprise!  This pumpkin pie was the cause of the Great Pumpkin Truce of 2015:  "two holiday favorites, pumpkin and pecan pie, together in a contrast of flavor and texture.  Great sweet balance.  This pie will not disappoint either pumpkin or pecan pie purists."

For next week:  the Posh Pie.  This is a classic "Rose recipe," with many steps, including baking your own chocolate wafer cookies for the crust, and with rich, decadent, chocolate flavors.

And guess what?  We've been doing this for a year now.  Our first recipe, the Kouign Amann, was on December 1, 2014.  Our last recipe is scheduled for December 3, 2016, so the Posh Pie will usher in Year 2 of the Alpha Baking Project.


  1. Stunning picture! These cookies are so good that I have to get a new cookie press now. I've been getting a lot of "Are there any more of those sprinkle cookies?" So hard to believe it's been a full year of baking.

  2. Thank you so much ! these cookies are long gone....congratulation for a year of baking !

  3. It's been one year already. My goodness. During this year, I lost 18 pounds, then gained 5 back. I think it was the Posh Pie and the Marble Cake in Reverse and, and, and...