Sugar Cookies

This entry could also be titled "An Exercise in Self-Torture" as I will explain.

I love to bake (as a pastry chef, and at home). From sweet to savory, it doesn't matter. If I can put the end results into a hot oven and pull out something yummy it is a good day for me. With that said, I hate to bake cookies. Don't get me wrong, I love cookies-adore them in fact. I used to love baking cookies too. What has changed, you asked? I now have a gorgeous daughter who LOVES to bake cookies with me! Don't be mistaken I love my little girl, and I love doing things with her. It is just that baking (even cookies) is a professional task for me and having here in the kitchen to "help" is professional torture. Because of a mandate from her dad, however, I am now forced to allow our 4 year old to "help" with the cookie making process.

So instead of sugar cookies taking 10 minutes to mix, roll, and cut; it now takes about an hour. Heaven forbid that I should decorate the cookies either...oh no! Instead of beautifully decorated holiday delights, we now have messily sprinkled Picasso-esque forms. This hell will never end! Oh least my daughter is happy. She gets to "help" mom, and the end result is cookies for her.

Here is my recipe for Holiday Cookies and a great Icing to decorate them with when my daughter is not around to destroy them!

Rolled Sugar Cookies for Decorating
1/2 pound butter-at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar

1 large egg
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. Vanilla
3 1/2 cups All-purpose flour.

Remove the dough from the mixer and divide in half. Place each half between two large sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Roll each piece of dough to 1/4 inch thick.

Using a cookie cutter, cut the desired shapes you like in to the dough sheets, but do NOT remove the cut-outs. Place the cookie dough in the freezer for 15 minutes to set. Remove the excess from around the cookies, and leave the cut-outs undisturbed on the sheets. Re-roll the excess dough until you have used it all up! 

 Place 9-12 cookies at a time on parchment lined baking sheets. If you don't want to go to the trouble of icing them, brush each cookie with a little room temperature water and sprinkle with colored sugar appropriate to the holiday for which you are baking them.

Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes. The cookies will look slightly underdone, but they will set as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool before removing from the sheet pans. Decorate with royal Icing. Or- just let your little kid sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar before you bake them as we did this weekend.

If you ice them with the following recipe: Let the cookies stand for an hour to set the Icing. Eat and smile at will!

Royal Icing:
2 Lbs Sugar
6 Tbs. Wilton Brand meringue powder
1 cup cool water
Place all the ingredients in a stand mixer with the whip attachment in place. Whip 7-10 minutes until the icing is fluffy and slightly shiny. *I use meringue powder because it negates the concern over raw egg whites in the icing. I recommend this to any and all home-cooks! To Color the icing-place a little in a quart sized zip topped bag. Add a little gel icing color and seal the bag. SQUISH the bag (or have your 4 year old do it for you) over and over until the color comes through and is a nice even tone...this is the most fun to do if you have a little kid to do it with, as I do!

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