My grandmother's recipe for this sweet and slightly tangy cookie dates back to the 1960s. Luckily, today’s cookie presses are much easier to use than the old hand-crank variety, so baking dozens of pretty little cookies is a snap.
Heat the oven to 375°F. With a stand mixer (use the paddle attachment) or a hand mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat again until blended. Add the flour and mix on low speed until blended.
Fit a cookie press with a die plate. Scoop up about a quarter of the dough and, using a small amount of flour if needed, shape the dough into a log just narrower than the barrel of the cookie press. Slide the log into the cookie press and spritz the cookies directly onto ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Brush the tops with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with colored sugar if using. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake until the cookies are just golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes (it’s best to bake one sheet at a time). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a rack for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Be sure the baking sheet is cool before spritzing more cookies.
Store at room temperature or freeze in an airtight container, separating the cookie layers with waxed paper.
Photo: Scott Phillips