Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Mirro Cookie-Pastry Press
I borrowed my mom's Mirro brand Cookie-Pastry Press to make some spritz cookies; about 15 years ago. Periodically I wonder if she ever gets a craving and then curses me for never having returned her press. For the record, I'm usually really good about returning everything I borrow. Well, except for that hot air popcorn popper she loaned me...
Generally I tend to gravitate toward the new & improved things, but lately it seems that with kitchen gadgets I'm hanging on tighter than ever to some of the old ones. The faded brown and orange box of the cookie press has fascinated me for years. I love the 70's writing style on the box and the fact that the booklet of recipes and instructions spell the word cookie with a y instead of an ie. The Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Company was the result of a merger between two competing Wisconsin aluminum companies in 1893. They began producing kitchen equipment in 1917 when they launched their flagship line of products, the Mirro Aluminum brand, and quickly became one of the largest producers of aluminum products in the United States. During WWII they retooled their factories to make aluminum products for the military and when the war ended in 1954, the company looked for a new market and branched out into aluminum toys as well. By the 1960's the Mirro brand of cookware was flourishing and the company was renamed to the Mirro Aluminum Company.
I'm guessing that mom purchased this press sometime in the early 70's; based on the box design and the fact that she was an active Room Mother during my early school years. I carried on that tradition with my son during his early years and will again with my daughter when she starts school. When all is said and done, this humble gadget will have created hundreds of smiles.
Using a cookie press is a rather simple procedure of filling the tube of the press with cookie dough and turning a knob on top of the tube, or pulling a trigger, to extrude the dough through the decorative plates at the other end. However, there are a few tricks to ensure the proper dough consistency. Start with refrigerator temperature butter. Then gradually cream in the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy but avoid over-creaming, as it will cause the mixture to increase in volume and become too soft to work with. If your dough becomes too soft while mixing, you can add a couple tablespoons of flour or refrigerate your empty press before filling it with the room temperature dough. Always form your spritz cookies directly onto a cool, ungreased cookie sheet and bake until they are just set or slightly brown. Not over-baking will produce cookies that are melt-in-your-mouth tender. While butter is traditionally used to make butter cookies, margarine or shortening can be substituted. Neither will provide the same butter flavor, but cookies made with shortening will hold their shape better in the oven. After baking, remove the cookies immediately and transfer to cooling racks. Spritz cookies are versatile, in that they can be sprinkled, iced, decorated with candies, dipped in chocolate or made with tinted dough to match any occasion.
While these tender, pressed cookies require extra care when storing, they freeze very well when stacked between layers of waxed paper. This makes them top considerations for holiday baking, school bake sales or church functions because they can be made ahead and frozen until the day you need them. As the name implies, the Mirro Cookie-Pastry Press isn't just for cookies. It also makes canapes, appetizers, cheese straws, crackers, meringue shells, cream puffs, eclairs and ladyfingers. If you have one of these overlooked kitchen gadgets sitting around, go ahead and pull it out; see how many smiles you can create!
Sour Cream Spritz Cookies