Published November 1, 2004. From Cook's Illustrated.
We tested six models to see which lived up to the promise of consistently delivering uniform cookies.
For those of us lacking a steady hand or experience with a pastry bag, a cookie press would seem indispensable for making attractive spritz cookies. These inexpensive tools promise to produce consistently shaped cookies in record time. We tested six models to see if they lived up to their word.
Old-fashioned cookie presses rely on a screw-driven plunger to press the dough through cut dies, resulting in dozens of possible shapes. In our tests, these presses were awkward to use, especially with buttery hands. The one electric press we tested was even worse. The production of uniform cookies depended on split-second timing; hold down that power button too long or release it too soon—by what seemed like a millisecond—and you ended up with a cookie swollen to unrecognizable proportions or a cookie so puny it was destined to burn.
A third style of cookie press relies on a triggered, ratcheting mechanism. One click of the ratchet yields a perfect cookie every time. Our favorite press of this kind was nearly goof-proof and allowed us to make dozens of cookies in just minutes. This sort of press does have its limitations, however. Its one-cookie-at-a-time design restricts it to "drop" cookies. It is extremely difficult to produce an elongated cookie, for example, with this sort of press. Even for a novice baker, a pastry bag is better suited for making fancier shapes. But it’s hard to argue with the convenience of a good cookie press, especially if volume and uniformity are your main concerns.