Spritz cookies are easy to make and consist of four main ingredients.

I

f you've ever eaten and loved those small, buttery cookies with colored sugar sprinkled on top of them, you've had spritz cookies. They're a well-loved holiday cookie, but not many people know where they came from, and since they're a little more involved to make and can involve using a cookie press, which some people don't have, you may not get to enjoy them as often as you'd like. Here's a crash course in one of our favorite cookies.

spritz A cookie press.

The cookies are fairly simple to make in terms of ingredients—consisting of four main ingredients: flour, sugar, egg, and butter. They come from the German Spritzgeback, and are made by extruding dough through a cookie press with patterned holes—it's how the Christmas-tree-shaped cookies, wreath-shaped cookies, and more are made. Since we Americans can't be bothered by foreign language words (more than two syllables, oh no!), the name is shortened to "spritz."

The cookies can be made different flavors by adding things like chocolate, extracts, and spices to the dough before pressing them.

Cookie presses aren't expensive, with a kit from Wilton costing $16 for a press with several different interchangeable plates.  The "gun" part looks a bit like a caulk gun, and to ensure each cookie is the same size, the trigger is set to "clicks"—each click of the trigger releases the same amount of cookie dough.

While it sounds like it might be a lot of work to make spritz cookies, the hardest part is putting the dough into the gun (read: not very hard at all).

As for making the dough, all you have to do is beat together 2/3 cup sugar and one cup of butter, then add in 2 1/2 cups of flour, one egg, and 1/4 teaspoon of your choice of extract (vanilla or almond are most popular).  Heat the oven to 400 degrees, then press the cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet. Decorate the cookies with colored sugars, then pop into the oven for five to eight minutes, until the cookies are set but not browned.

Spritz cookies are easy to make, and thanks to their small size, one batch makes about six dozen cookies.