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When I was a kid, my mom had a cookie press that was all metal, and you had to screw down the rod to press the cookies. While it took some finesse to come up with the "perfect" cookie, that was one sturdy cookie press -- it lasted my entire childhood.
Well, they don't make cookie presses like they used to -- or at least I didn't think so. I typically only use a cookie press at Christmastime, but I've still managed to go through a few of them over the years. Up until now, the best was my old electric Super Shooter, which made pretty good cookies once you got the rhythm down. When it died a couple years ago, I picked up some cheap plastic manual press at the local craft store (the only place that wasn't sold out of cookie presses at the time), which made it through one Christmas before cracking. This year I bought a Salton electric cookie press at one of the fancy department stores, and returned it after one use. The plastic rod was so flimsy that it was bending as it pushed the dough through, and I could hear the plastic tube starting to crack. All of which led me to one conclusion: When it comes to cookie presses, plastic is definitely a bad idea.
It was time to find something sturdier. Forget the electric stuff -- if it wasn't made of metal, I didn't want it. I remembered seeing the Wilton Cookie Pro at Sears. I did some checking and found that it made primarily of metal. The box claimed it was the "World's Best Cookie Press." I was a bit skeptical about that claim, but it had to be better than what I'd been using. I sent my husband out to get one before they could sell out (Linens 'n' Things had already sold out of them). We lucked out -- they still had some in stock, and they were on sale for $14.99.
The next day my son went to work making his favorite cookies. He mixed the dough, pulled up the metal plunger rod, stuffed the dough in the barrel, selected the Christmas tree disk, inserted it in the bottom ring, and screwed the ring with the disk onto the bottom of the barrel. He then turned the plunger rod so that it "engaged," squeezed the lever a couple of times, and begin cranking at cookies at a pace that left me standing in utter amazement. Once you get the dough going, one click of the lever produces a perfect cookie. Click. Click. Click. Within less than a minute, the cookie sheet was filled -- and every cookie was perfectly formed. Both of us were in awe. We had, indeed, found the "world's best cookie press." Several dozen cookies later, we decided that we were suitably impressed!
After he was done with his cookies, I played with the Cookie Pro a bit myself. I will say that the operation is not exactly intuitive -- there are aspects of it that are a little tricky if you haven't read the instructions. You need to turn the rod so that the teeth aren't "engaged" in order to pull it up, and make sure that they are engaged in order to operate it. The lever handle flips over to the side to make storage easier; when flipping it back to operating position, you need to do a bit of maneuvering to make sure the rod is positioned correctly or you can get things jammed up. And I wondered how on earth you got the inside clean -- until I read the instructions and learned that the stainless steel barrel slides out for easy cleaning. Once you know all of the little nuances involved in the design, it's really quite ingenious, but I definitely recommend reading the directions before you start using it.
The rod and barrel are stainless steel; the barrel slips into a heavy plastic frame. The disks and other metal parts are aluminum. The Cookie Pro comes with ten disks most typically found with just about any cookie press, including the Christmas tree, heart, flower, starburst, etc. The pusher at the bottom of the rod is plastic. The lever has a rubberized coating on it for easy gripping.
Making cookies with the Cookie Pro is much easier than with any cookie press I've ever owned. Once the dough is placed in the barrel, the disk screwed onto the bottom, and the rod engaged, cookies are pressed simply by placing the Cookie Pro on the cookie sheet, pressing the lever one click and then lifting up the Cookie Pro. (It takes three or four clicks to get the first cookie out; after that, it's one click and you're on to the next one.) No more guesswork to figure out the "rhythm" needed to press a perfect cookie!
When finished, remove the bottom ring, take out the disk, and slide out the steel barrel for easy cleaning. Important note: Although the directions say that this is dishwasher safe, don't put it in the dishwasher. The disks and the aluminum parts of the press become discolored from dishwasher detergent. If you want to wash the stainless steel barrel in the dishwasher, that comes out fine.
The Cookie Pro is also designed for easy storage. There is a handle release button that allows the lever to be flipped back so that it rests along the side of the barrel to make it more compact, and there is a plastic disk storage unit which can be screwed onto the bottom of the barrel to store the disks so they don't get lost. It's all self-contained, so you can put just put it in a drawer instead of putting it all back in the box. (In fact, you can pitch the box; no need to save it.)
This cookie press is the sturdiest one I've seen in years -- no more plastic rods or barrels! (We'll see how well the plastic pusher holds up.) And it's the first cookie press I've ever seen that can create a perfect cookie without any guesswork at all. I was so impressed with the Cookie Pro that I bought my mom one for Christmas. Ever since some of the parts to her old metal one disappeared, she's been struggling to find a cookie press that would measure up. I think this one will do the trick.
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