Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Cookies

by G.Parker

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the food. The soups, rolls, dinners, deserts, candy making, cookies... Ah yes, the cookies. Gingerbread, chocolate chip, macaroons, meringues, refrigerator cookies, drop cookies and my most favorite, the sugar cookie.

I have been in search of the perfect sugar cookie recipe. You see, all the recipes I’ve got call for cream of tartar, and I’ve decided it gives them this after taste that I really don’t like. Also, I hate the rolling out, cutting, re-rolling and cutting some more part of sugar I usually don’t make them. (I’m lazy that way.) This year I couldn’t stand it, and when I found two different recipes for them that didn’t have that aforementioned ingredient, I proceeded to experiment. One recipe I made, the other I forced my daughter to make. (Okay, I didn’t have to force her, she doesn’t mind cooking when she has a recipe to look at – not my brain that she has to pick for ingredients)

The batch I made turned out okay. It was strange because the recipe tells you to make sure they barely brown and I was used to everyone getting them pretty crisp on the edges. (I like mine soft and chewy.) Frosting turned out to be another trick that I haven’t quite mastered yet. First, one is supposed to glaze them and then add other decorations. While these are gorgeous to look at, it’s a little difficult when those little ingredients are not to be found in the house. I just frosted them like normal. Actually, after the first pan came out, I frosted them and they were gone in seconds flat, so I let my youngest take over the frosting job. He was thrilled, needless to say, and his frosting job didn’t look any worse than mine.

As always, this brought to mind a comparison to writing. The magic of the season is much like the joy and anticipation of picking up a really good book you’ve been wanting to read. Or, perhaps more like a book you’ve read often, and can’t wait to treasure the moment again. It’s the sit-down-and-delve-into-the-pages-with-a-hot-cup-of-cocoa-in-front-of-the-fire feeling. It’s wonderful, relaxing and thrilling all at the same time.

So, since my fellow bloggers have already started the recipe list, I’m adding to it. Here is the recipe my daughter is making and the frosting to go with it. Mix up a batch and hand it out, because the best part about making them (next to eating them) is sharing with those around you!

Frosted Ornament Cookies
(from the newspaper)

1 3/4 C Sifted flour
½ tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a piece of waxed paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then add the flour mixture in thirds, stirring each time until the dough is smooth.

On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut into the desired cookie shapes and transfer to an untreated baking sheet. For ornaments, make a 1/4" hole in each cookie with the blunt end of a wooden skewer. Bake just until lightly browned on the bottom and pale golden on top – 6 to 8 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks.

Simple Glaze
2 1/4 C confectioners sugar
2 TB light corn syrup
1 ½ Tb plus 1 tsp milk
food coloring

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup and 1 ½ Tb milk. Add the food coloring, if desired. Spread one cookie with the glaze. If the glaze doesn’t smooth out after 1 minute, dribble in additional milk, ½ tsp at a time until glaze reached desired consistency. Use an offset spatula or table knife to spread the glaze on the cookies. This glaze dries hard and shiny, perfect for coating the top surface of your cookies in preparation for decorating.

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