Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pomegranate Spritz Cookies

How could I forget these pomegranate spritz cookies!?  These beautiful little cookies were what I made while my friends and family made crafts at my Christmas craft night (see yesterday's post on gingerbread whoopie pies for more information on that).  I considered using a cookie press to be quite crafty.  I got the cookie press for Christmas two years ago and yet had never pulled it out to try it.  Why? I have absolutely no idea.  The cookie press is an ingenious invention, particularly for someone who often makes great tasting looks that don't look so great.  I've explained before that I don't excel at making pretty food, so I was pretty thrilled at the idea of using a machine that will make all my cookies look the same, and have them be in lovely little shapes!

For those of you who don't know, cookie presses feel like a toy from your Play-Doh days.  And it also looks a little bit like my inhaler and spacer.  You put your dough inside it and press the trigger to press out a shape - and there are lots of different shapes you can make using different discs.  That's it!  It was fun and easy to use once I got the hang of it.

Now, on to the cookies themselves.  They're the most beautiful red color thanks to 3/4 teaspoon of red food coloring and 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses.  I had picked up pomegranate molasses a few months ago when I saw it at Market Basket with no definite plans for it.  I knew it was a staple in Middle Eastern cooking and baking, so I figured I would put it to good use some time.  I was actually just watching a show on the Food Network this morning that talked about what pomegranate molasses is - it's not molasses at all.  It's really pomegranate juice that has been cooked down and reduced so it's thick, sweet and syrupy (which also means you could make your own if you can't find it in the store).  Mmmmm.  It gives the cookies a really fruity flavor, along with a nice red color.  There's also some orange zest in the cookies to brighten the flavors up.

The end result were these lovely little flower-shaped red cookies with so much taste packed into them, it was insane.  At my craft party, people seemed to like them but not love them - no one was going wild for them, at least.  But then the next day, I brought them up to my grandmother's house for her birthday party, and my relatives scarfed them down.  In fact, my uncle Gary announced they were like potato chips in that it is totally impossible to eat only one.  My aunts and uncles were raving about them wildly and begging me to make another batch!  I had to try some at that point, and I also found them weirdly addictive.  They're sweet and fruity, and small enough that it feels totally acceptable to eat handfuls of them.  If you have a cookie press, go dust it off and try to make these cookies!


pomegranate spritz cookies
from the December 2014 issue of Food Network Magazine
yield 72 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3/4 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
silver nonpareils for decorating (I didn't think they needed any more decoration so I skipped this)


1) Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg, pomegranate molasses, food coloring, and orange zest.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium low; beat in the flour mixture until incorporated. (The dough can be made a day ahead; cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before filling your cookie press).

2) Fill a cookie press with the dough according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Press cookies 1 inch apart onto 2 baking sheets.  Decorate with nonpareils.

3) Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are set but not browned, 15 to 18 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then loosen with a thin spatula and let cool completely on the baking sheets.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

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