You and your kids can make fancy cookies at home for a fraction of the price with a cookie press. Not only that, it’s a nice bonding activity that your entire family can enjoy. These aren’t as quick as drop cookies, like chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies. Once you get comfortable, the pressing process will go much more quickly, however. If you have multiple cookie presses, you and your kids can race each other.
The biggest obstacle to using a cookie press with your kids is dough consistency. Your dough needs to be soft enough to put in the press, but stiff enough that the cookies will retain their shape. Let refrigerated dough sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before loading it into the press. Try molding a piece of dough in your hands before you start loading. If it shapes easily into whatever shape you want, it’s ready to put in your cookie press. If the dough is too soft, stick it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, then take it out and try the shape test.
Loading the Press
Chop any nuts in your cookie recipe very finely before you add them to the dough. Otherwise, they'll distort your pressed cookie design. Try to avoid mixing air into your cookie dough as you load it into the cookie press. This can cause the dough to come out of the press unevenly, which will lead to less pretty cookies. Gently shake the press after you load each spoonful of dough into it. This will help it settle, allowing trapped air to escape out the top. Smooth the last spoonful of dough into place with a spatula before you slide the metal die into place for cookie-making.
Press the plunger down slowly and evenly to create your first cookie. The dough will come through the cookie die in whatever shape you’ve chosen. Some cookie shapes will require you to use a sharp knife to cut the dough free from the die. Others will require you to push the press down, then pull it up sharply -- like using an icing bag. Your kids can easily learn to do this, too, and will get better as they go. If you don’t feel comfortable letting your children use a knife, have them operate the press while you slice the cookies free.
Clearing Clogs and Cleaning
Sometimes, dough can stick to the inside of your cookie press. If this happens, it's too thick. Remove the dough from the press and stir in a little milk or orange juice to thin it out. If your cookie press is metal, don’t let it soak in water. Instead, rinse it immediately after use with hot, soapy water. Let it air-dry before putting it away. Since cookie presses are delicate, wash them by hand, not in the dishwasher, unless the manufacturer specifically says it’s safe to do so.