12.01.2009

December, Day 1: Cookies!

I'm having a hard, hard time believing it's December already - not least of all because the ground still hasn't frozen and there are still leaves on some trees. In fact, today I was walking past a poor, confused cherry tree that was bursting into bloom. Has it been warm enough for that? (Mind you, I am not complaining! Viva la warm weather!) Furthermore, this being the week in which I turn twenty-eight (Friday! Mark your calendars!), the passage of time is especially perplexing these days.

Amanda over at Slow Like Honey has thrown down the blogging gauntlet. She pledges 31 posts in 31 days - every day in December. Well, I'm not one to be competitive or anything, but I want to play along! So, here we go. I've never succeeded at a Photo a Day and I've never successfully given something up for all of Lent. I don't stick to things particularly well, but here's hoping I can turn over a new leaf! (It is time to do that, after all - I always do that at my birthday.)
Anyway, December 1, being after Thanksgiving, is officially an okay day to start the holiday season. So, in an effort to kick start the season (and treat my students tomorrow) I have MADE COOKIES!I've never made and decorated sugar cookies completely from scratch before, so this was exciting. I turned to the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook for a recipe and what I came up with was pretty amazing. The decorating is amateur at best, but I had fun! The love is in the icing.

Holiday Cookies (from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 c sugar (they called for superfine, I used normal)
  • 1/4 t salt (I only had salted butter, so I eliminated this)
  • 16 T (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened
  • 2 T cream cheese, softened
  • 2 t vanilla
  1. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time. (They call this the reverse creaming method. It seems to work well. Makes them flat and compact - easy to decorate, and yet delicious.)
  3. When all the butter is incorporated, add the cream cheese and vanilla until the dough starts to form clumps.
  4. Knead the dough in the bowl by hand a few times until cohesive. Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide in half and pat into 4-inch disks. Refrigerate 20-30 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper. When it is uniformly 1/8-inch thick, slide the dough and parchment onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate about 10 minutes.
  6. Cut out shapes (I used the kicky snowflake cookie cutters I got over Thanksgiving.) and lay on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake the cookies at 375 until light brown 8-10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  8. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. When completely cool, decorate with icing.
Icing
  • 1 T cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 3 T milk
  1. Mix the cream cheese, vanilla, and 1 T milk.
  2. Use electric mixer to combine milk mixture with powdered sugar. Add more milk as necessary until icing spreads easily.
  3. Make a piping bag out of a ziploc. Add food coloring. Go crazy.

3 comments:

CHRISTINE said...

Wow! Emily! Du bist unglaublich! Ich backe vielleicht auch Cookies, aber nach Deiner Vorlage bin ich ganz entmutigt. Es ist fantastisch, was Du wieder geleistet hast. Spätestens beim Dekorieren hätte ich übrigens aufgegeben.

Amanda said...

Good luck posting! I can already tell it's going to be challenging to post every day... Happy holidays!

Cook'n said...

This is fantastic! I love this blog. i have been trying menu planning for the last several weeks and i am getting a pretty good start. Have a fantastic holiday season