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Danish Butter Cookies

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Every year of my childhood, without fail, one or more of those iconic tins of butter cookies would appear at my grandparents’ home during the holidays. Those very tins, now a bit worn for wear, still float about our lives, having been re-purposed as button tins, thread containers, and receptacles for various nails and screws in the handyman department of the garage.

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Spritz Cookies

The cookies were most often Danish butter, a traditional sweet that is sometimes piped into a wreath or even a pretzel. Very similar to German spritz cookies, they’re made from a simple combination of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. Indeed, the word spritz originated from the German word, “spritzen,” which translates “to squirt” in English. They are made by dough being “pushed” or “squirted” from a cookie press. The egg in both recipes makes the dough more pliable and therefore easier to press into a variety of shapes and designs.

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Ready, Set, BAKE!

Homemade baking was and still is a very important part of our family holiday. Cookies, candy, cakes, and cheese straws are for gift-giving, church bazaars and to welcome guests. Thankfully, we’ve ceased making my grandfather’s fruitcake cookies, boozy blobs studded with candied fruit. (I’m not sure if they were meant to be some sort of adverse cookie therapy, but much like the cake for after which they were named I steered clear of those as a child.) Other family favorites include wedding cookies, chocolate snowcaps, and spicy golden gingersnaps.

Danish Butter Cookies on www.virginiawillis.com

I hope you and your family will give them a try. If you don’t have a cookie press you can still make a delicious buttery cookie. Simply scoop the dough into a small ball and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Or, with a bit of elbow grease, you can also use a pastry bag with a star tip. Best wishes for a joyful holiday!

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
– Virginia Willis

PS Want to really stretch your baking skills? Give this Old Fashioned Caramel Cake or check out my Chrismas Coconut Cake on Food Network. 

Danish Butter Cookies on www.virginiawillis.com

 

Danish Butter Cookies

You can bake the cookies on an unlined baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Cookies baked on an unlined sheet will be slightly crisper and darker than cookies baked on a mat. Cookies baked on a mat will also take a few minutes longer to bake.
Prep Time30 mins
Active Time10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, cookie
Yield: 3 dozen
Author: Virginia Willis

Materials

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 large egg white, beaten with 2 teaspoons of water (optional)
  • Sanding sugars, dragées, or sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla, followed by the flour and salt. Mix thoroughly to combine. The dough should be very soft and pliable.
  • Fill a cookie press with the dough, and turn out cookies 1 to 2 inches apart onto either an unlined baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (see note).
  • If pressing the dough is too difficult, it is not soft enough. If that is the case, use your hands to work the dough, a little at a time, until it is very soft and pliable. Sprinkle the cookies with colored sanding sugars or decorate with dragées or sprinkles.
  • Bake until the cookies are lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. To ensure even baking, rotate the sheet halfway through the baking process. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 1 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

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