Today's New Activity: Prettifying Sugar Cookies
The reason I probably haven't made sugar cookies is that I don't really like sugar cookies. Their taste is not offensive, of course. But it's also not very interesting. I do however recognize that they are definitely the best type of cookie for decorating during the holidays (any holiday!). Here is the simple, straightforward recipe:
"Granny Grant's Christmas Cookies" (as shown in newspaper article)
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cream
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla ( low to medium setting for 30-60 seconds.)
Sift dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder & salt).
Add flour mixture gradually to creamed mixture, adding cream as needed.
Dough will be stiff.
Chill dough for about an hour.
Roll out dough (or pat press with hands) on a lightly floured surface.
Shape dough with cookie cutters.
Decorate with sugar/chocolate sprinkles before baking (lightly press sprinkles into each cut out with fingers or a small pastry brush)
Bake at 350 for 7-9 minutes.
Cool on racks for about 10/15 minutes. If you're planning on using decorative icing, do so after cookies are completely cool!
*Baking Tip* Instead of using parchment paper to line cookie sheets, use a Silpat (Silicon Baking Mat). Silpats are very easy to clean off & re-use (they're a god send, to me!) You can get them at Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma =)
That last part is from Colleen. One of the reasons I liked talking with her about cookies when I saw her a few weeks ago was that she's already tried and tested so many methods and recipes--she really does have the best to offer!
I'd actually done the baking last night, as a way of distracting me and keeping me busy during my baby's absence. My Mom, who has more than a little bit of Martha Stewart in her (good Martha Stewart...like all the knowhow and materials and means to make beautiful things, without the annoying condescension or arrogance) brought out her heart- and flower-shaped cookie cutters and introduced me to some variations on the theme (using a smaller one within a larger one to make for a heart outline or putting the whole of a small heart on top of a larger one or a flower and baking it like that). She and my Dad both hung around to help with the shape making and baking--it was a fun family effort.
So when I got home tonight, all the little luvies were there, just waiting to be dressed:
(Well they hadn't been sitting there getting dried out all night. I brought them back out of their tupperware housing for this part).
Again, my Ma busted out all her tools for decorating, along with the recipe for a very simple lemon glaze (just mix 4 cups of confectioner's sugar with 1/4-1/3 cup lemon concentrate from those little plastic lemons you find in the produce section). I colored half of the glaze to make pink and left the other half translucent white. It was great to have my Ma nearby during this part, as she just has a way of making everything pretty. She has MAD skills with stuff like this that I know come somewhat from practice, but also seem like a gene she was born with that I just didn't get. She mostly watched and offered suggestions, but when I asked her to, she took up a tube of icing at the end to add all the best finishing touches.
Then, she prepped a red plate with a doily (hers again, of course--remember, she is the Keeper of the Pretty!) and helped me arrange it with cookies to take to work. I say these are sweets for the semi-sweet, because not everyone I work with is sweet (though really they mostly are...lucky me!), but anybody in need of a gentle push in the right direction will hopefully be influenced by these:
Thanks Mom and Colleen, for helping bring some extra love!