A cookie press (aka “cookie pistol”) is a kitchen tool that is used to make cookies with special shapes.
Some are shaped like pistols; some are straight, long tubes.
You pack the tube with dough, and then press either a trigger or a plunger on top to force the dough out through a nozzle at the bottom of the tube to which you have attached the desired shape.
You can get electric ones, battery-operated ones, and manual ones. Some electric ones are cordless (you charge them before using them.)
Hold a cookie press totally upright during use.
It is best to start with less complicated shapes, rather than trying to form a snowflake for your very first try. Even pros, when making their annual Christmas batch, have to press out a few dud cookies first to get the feel of it right again.
Where most cookie pistol newbies get caught is trying to get the press to let go of the freshly-extruded cookie. It works best if the dough is slightly chilled, but not stiff.
Ideally, as you press a cookie out onto a cookie sheet, it should want to cling more to the cookie sheet than to the nozzle of the press. Consequently, you want the cookie sheet cold and ungreased — if it were heated and greased, it wouldn’t provide much for the cookie dough to grip onto. For the same reason, the cookie sheet can’t be non-stick, nor can it be lined with waxed or parchment paper. Ideally, you want a chilled, ungreased shiny aluminum surface. If time allows, pop the cookie sheets into the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes before using. If you can provide such a surface, when you’re done pressing out your cookie shape and ready to move the press on to do the next cookie, the dough will stick somewhat to the cookie sheet and stay behind where you intended to leave it, rather than travelling with you. Before moving the press onto the spot for the next cookie, pause for a few seconds to give the freshly-extruded cookie dough a chance to settle on the cookie sheet, and stick.
Dough used in cookie presses at high altitudes may actually require less flour, because the flour may be drier.