A cookie press makes the daintiest, cutest shaped cookies and the results are so professional you'll feel great serving them. Handy for more than making cookies, you can use a cookie press to ice cupcakes or cakes or fill deviled eggs or cream puffs.
Most cookie presses on the market are manual presses that use either a turning handle or plunger system to press out the dough. Sizes of presses vary as do accessories and you'll want a variety of discs for cookies and tips for decorating with icing.
Using a Cookie Press
When it comes to using a cookie press, it takes a little practice to get into a rhythm so that your cookies are comparable in size and appearance. Here are some tips whether you're using a manual or electric cookie press.
- Allow sufficient time. Once you get the hang of using a press it's a quick process. But if you're starting out, allow lots of time for set-up, reading your cookie press manual, experimenting, and clean-up.
- Use only cookie press recipes. The right consistency dough is crucial to successful cookie press cookies. There are lots of recipes available and avoid adding mix-ins like nuts, chocolate chips, and raisins—they do not press.
- Don't grease your cookie sheet. Pressed dough must adhere to the cookie sheet to form properly. Avoid using parchment paper—a bare baking sheet is best.
- Remove air from the press. Press a little to remove air and bring the dough or icing closer to the disc or tip. When filling the shaft, press it down as you add the dough.
- Hold the press flat on the baking sheet. Avoid tilting the press or "dropping" batter. To press and adhere to the baking sheet, the dough needs consistent, even pressure directly overhead.
- Don't overload the cookies. It may look like a little batter with spaces between motif cut-outs, but it can still bake into a full, delicate-looking cookie. Pressed cookies should denote their shape after baking; overloading them fills in the design too much and they will just look like a round cookie.
- Practice. Your first cookies may not look as nice and can even have a dragged look. Just scrape that batter off the baking sheet and return it to the dough bowl. You'll get the hang of it in no time.
- Pause before lifting. Before lifting the press and moving to the next cookie, give it a second after stopping the press action to allow the released dough to grab the cookie sheet. You'll have less "strings" of dough to return to the bowl.
- Allow space between the cookies. They do rise but you don't need as much as some other cookies. Just leave about 1 1/2 inches in between.
- Cool the cookies. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet before removing them to a cooling rack or plate. The baked cookies are fragile, so you'll need a very thin cookie spatula (metal is best).
- Allow clean-up time. Cookie presses have lots of parts. Though some are dishwasher safe, you can avoid losing small parts by hand washing and drying completely before storing.
Electric vs Manual Cookie Press
Whether you choose an electric or manual press, they both have pros and cons. A manual press is cheaper to buy and there's more variety on the market. There's also no cord to worry about. However, an electric cookie press gives you a consistent and continuous pressing, which is ideal especially when decorating with icing. It can also save you time over a manual model.
Note that using an electric cookie press does not mean you can press heavier doughs and batters. You can actually press heavier doughs with a sturdy manual model because you can add the pressure you need.
When buying a cookie press, keep these tips in mind to ensure you get the best model for you.
- If you only want to make cookies with your press, you'll need discs—the more the better. If you want to also decorate with icing, look for a model that has a good assortment of both discs and pastry tips.
- Check the quality of the model and that the shaft attaches easily and securely to the handle.
- Avoid models that could rust. It's very difficult to get all the dampness out of every groove after washing.
- A larger capacity (shaft) means less refilling, but it also means a larger tube to hold. Chose one that is comfortable to handle.
- If you don't have strong hands or a good grip, a turning-style manual press or an electric model may be best rather than a plunger-type model.
- If buying for a child, choose a smaller shaft with a pressing system he/she can manage.