My mother had the sweetest, kindest friends. They took a genuine interest in me all through my childhood. My parents would take me along to dinner parties and I could chat it up with anyone at the table. One of her friends was my favorite. Julia Johnson. She was like my personal playmate.
I would go and spend the day at her home and we’d cook and play cards, ride bikes and she had the most fantastic trail mix in a milk glass jar on her coffee table. She taught me how to shell pecans and make root beer floats. I loved eating her pineapple chess pie. She had the most beautiful toile wallpaper in her dining room. One summer, we all went on vacation together in our motor home to visit Julia’s family in the Carolina’s and Virginia. It was such fun.
I attended Julia’s 90th birthday a few years ago. You can read a sweet story about her birthday party here including the letter I wrote to her listing all the reasons why I thought she was the neatest grown-up ever.
One special recipe Julia taught me how to make were her famous spritz cookies. Every Christmas, without fail, we’d get a huge tin full of Christmas trees and cream cheese wreaths. At one point she had to include another small tin just for me because Daddy would eat most of them before I had the chance.
The dough is simple to make, requires just a brief chill. You will need a cookie press easily found in Walmart or Target. The press comes with about 10 different discs so you can change the shape. This is the tree disc.
1/2 cup shortening (solid like Crisco)
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups of flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp almond extract
green food coloring
Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets with butter or non-stick spray
Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream shortening and butter for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add in sugar. Mix again. Add egg. Then, food coloring and extract.
A little at a time incorporate the dry mixture. Do not overmix.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
After you have loaded your cookie sheet with dough shapes, bake for about 10 minutes or until edges turn slightly brown.
Makes about 3 dozen.
Not a Christmas goes by that I still don’t make these cookies. They don’t taste quite like Julia’s, but Miss Bee now has the tradition that these cookies are a must at Christmas.