Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Recipe #5: Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Every Christmas Eve growing up, my family and I would wait outside our house for Santa to drive by with the fire department. He would stop, give us lollipops and wish us a "Merry Christmas!" Then, we would enjoy hors d'oeuvres like meatballs or perhaps a meal and open one gift, the present for each us from my aunt, uncle and three cousins in Oregon.

I kind of outgrew this tradition and am so pleased that I replaced it with one I enjoy again. For the second Christmas Eve in a row, my mom came over to my apartment and the two of us baked desserts for after dinner on Christmas Day. I truly enjoy baking and my mom relishes the time together.

Since I strive to be a domestic goddess, I do not love trying new recipes out for the first time for such a big event. Armed with a cookbook and a bookmark noting which pages of recipes she wants to prepare, this does not phase my mom whatsoever. I had never even seen anyone make cut-out sugar cookies, let alone make them myself!

We did do recipes that we have done before. I had made two batches of my famous fudge the preceding Monday and Tuesday, chocolate and chocolate walnut. On Christmas Eve, I also baked brookies after I got out of work, yet prior to her arrival. We also made my mother's favorite cookie, Russian Tea Cookies. She reported that this batch was the closest one she's done to what my grandmother used to bake. She whipped up drop sugar cookies made from the Betty Crocker bag and then dusted them with confectionery sugar. (My dad also made peanut butter cookies from the bag. I think they purchased a Key Lime cheesecake that graced the table as well. My brother's lovely girlfriend J made magic bars full of many ingredients. The table was just as full of desserts as it was with food during the feast. We actually had lasagna instead of the more traditional ham.)

Anyway... for the sugar cookies, I found this recipe where you do not chill the dough, so that the two of us could make a batch together in its entirety. Again, I used my new French Kitchen marble pastry slab from Crate & Barrel to be the surface where I knead the dough, roll it out and then cut the cookies. We borrowed my sister's KitchenAid mixer to make the dough. I also ordered three cookie cutters from Sur la Table, an ornament, a star and an Eiffel Tower.

The sugar cookies turned out well, but I definitely need some inspiration (like this (from Elements of Style)) and to practicepracticepractice decorating them with frosting, sugar and sprinkles. I politely asked my mother to tell me the desserts she wanted to make in advance and I would make them multiple times and then she could simply assist me in churning it out on Christmas Eve. It is important to me that what I contribute taste delicious and look beautiful.

We did many but I saved this one to snap a photo...

Eiffel Tower Sugar Cookie

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe from In katrina's kitchen

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 egg
2 tsp. baking powder
3 c. all-purpose flour plus a bit more for the pastry slab and rolling pin

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. In mixer, cream butter and sugar
3. Add and mix in extracts and egg
4. In another bowl, combine baking powder and flour
5. Add this to the mixer a bit at a time
6. Wet hands and finish kneading the dough by hand
7. Flour surface and rolling pin and roll some at a time to 1/4 inch tall
8. Cut with a cookie cutter 
9. Carefully peel off and place on a baking sheet
10. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden towards the bottom of side
11. Let cool on sheet until firm enough to lift onto a cooling rack
12. Frost cookies
13. Add colored sugar or sprinkles

I like this recipe and plan to use it again. You can really taste the 1/2 teaspoon of almond flavor.

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