My grandma on my dad’s side was known for a couple Christmas cookies, and this was one of them — “wreath cookies,” as we called them. It’s one of my dad’s favorites, so we made it in our house growing up, too. I vividly remember eating the soft, pale green sweets out of an old cookie tin my grandma always seemed to have on hand this time of year.
My Grandma Stark was very German, so it makes sense that one of her annual treats was what’s known as a “spritz.” The name for this cookie comes from the German word spritzen, or “to squirt.” These cookies are made using a cookie press, which means that a soft dough is pushed (or squirted) through a cylinder to create designs.
The cookie press made its way to my kitchen over the years, and I use it still to make these cookies. I have my grandma’s original recipe card, too, which contains some charms. The first ingredient listed is “oleo,” another term for margarine. She calls for a cherry garnish, and says to use “drink cherries in jar.” The recipe is very simple, and the addition of cream cheese gives the shortbread-like cookies just a little something extra. If you don’t have a cookie press, you can make wreaths by pinching of pieces of dough and rolling them into logs, then forming into circles.
1/2 cup margarine or butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour, sifted
Green food coloring
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream margarine and cheese. Add sugar and cream well. Then add vanilla.
Slowly add the flour. Mix well. Add a couple drops of green food coloring, and mix.
Fill cookie press half full. Form cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet using the star-shaped plate.
Hold press in a semi-horizontal position and form wreaths by moving press in a circular motion. Gently push ends of dough together to form wreaths.
Cut cherries into very small pieces and put a piece on each cookie where the ends meet.
Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until slightly browned on the bottom.
Makes about 2 dozen.
Source: Peggy Stark