Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cookies (Rolled Sugar Cookies)

you can get that swirly effect by making lines
with your icing then dragging a toothpick
through (works best when not too thick)
Maybe you've had this experience (like I have): someone makes beautiful, homemade Christmas cookies. They obviously took a lot of time and care to make them; they look fantastic. Your mouth starts salivating. You reach for one, take a bite and they taste and feel like cardboard. What a letdown.  Now I'm not saying this recipe is anything special, what I am saying is these cookies have the taste and texture of...cookies! So I'm sticking with these.

Don't feel bad if it takes you a really long time to decorate your cookies, it took me three hours and I'm supposed to be a trained professional (that does include making the icing, but not baking the cookies, I did that the day before).
ROLLED SUGAR COOKIES
Yield: approx. 5 dozen (depending on size of cutters) + 3 cups icing

Cookies:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Icing:
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (available in most grocery stores in the baking aisle)
1/3 cup water (plus more as needed)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
food coloring (optional)


Cookies:
1.           In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and extract. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.
2.           Divide dough into 4 balls and flatten into disks. Cover with plastic wrap and chill dough for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
3.           Preheat oven to 400° F.
4.           Roll out dough on floured surface, ¼- to ½-inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place cookies 1-inch apart on ungreased or parchment-linedcookie sheets.
5.           Bake 6 - 8 minutes, until barely lightly golden at the edges. Cool completely before decorating.

Icing:
1.      Beat together all ingredients (except food coloring) in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderate speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat icing, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until it holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 4 to 5 minutes with a handheld.
2.      Beat in food coloring (if using). Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency (especially if you plan to spread, rather than pipe, the icing).

cookie recipe slightly adapted from allrecipes.com
cut dough before baking
baked dough (they shouldn't have much color)
stiff peaks
white icing before coloring (I made a double batch because I was
making so many colors and didn't want to run out in the middle)
colored icing (I add a little water to each until I get the consistency I want)
Once they go in the squeeze bottles I get lazy; if the consistency isn't quite right
I just deal with it instead of fixing it (these aren't exactly for the Queen of England)
I use these awesome squeeze bottles for decorating...they are way less
messy than pastry bags (especially with a wee one getting into the action).
If you do buy the squeeze bottles, you might want to buy extra round tips (you'll probably use
those the most for cookie decorating). 
I keep my tips and other small stuff in a tackle box.
ready for the school party, just waiting to fulfill their destiny and make all the kids hyper
(even if you think they're all dry, wait a good long time before you pack them up
--unfortunately one of my gingerbread men didn't make it, R.I.P.)


These cookies were made possible by the selfless actions of my husband Chuck, who braved Chuck E. Cheese in order to occupy my daughter and give me a head start.  By the time they got home, I had enough done for her whole class and it was her turn to play!



UPDATE

 I decorated some more cookies just a few days later,
while visiting my in-laws for Christmas.

My mother-in-law Judie, a wonderful cook by the way, decorated these cookies.
She's pretty handy with a squeeze bottle (plus she baked the cookies).

5 comments:

foodieformerlyfat.com said...

There isn't really much to say here other than the obvious. You are a goddess.

Susan said...

A goddess! Oh puhlease (you need to get out more sister)!

Randi said...

They are amazing!

BarelyKnitTogether said...

First of all - your cookies are so beautiful and fun! But I really love the squeeze bottles and the tackle box idea. I'll have to get one for all those pesky little things that get lost all the time. :)

Anonymous said...

I used this recipe, baking with my two granddaughters. easy to roll out. the flavor of the cookies were fabulous. The girls love them! Incredible, and wonderful ideas on squeeze bottles and tackle box.

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