kruizing with kikukat

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Tradition: Fancy Cookies

Was Santa good to you this year?  Santa brought me two waaaay kewl McLaren-Mercedes-Vodaphone shirts.  I can't wait for 2012  Formula 1 season to begin! The Ds managed to stay off the "naughty" list this year and had their stockings filled with goodies:  instant udon, Targus stylus, kindle case, Bizu, and the ever-timeless Lindt chocolate Santa.  Can't wait for next year.  I'm gonna ask Santa for a Somali cat!

One reason why I think Santa has been so good to us is because the yummy homemade cookies make our home a worthwhile stop on his world tour.  This year, we were armed with a variety of cookies for Santa.  The first cookie we made was spritz wreaths (not pictured).  Then we moved on to the cut-outs.

Like Santa, I love fancy cut-out cookies too, but the many details that go into making a kick-ass cookie can be totally daunting.  The cookie itself is the main part of this monumental task.  I love it when cookies snap rather than bend.  But making rolled sugar cookies is tricky.  Many recipes which I've tried produce soggy cookies. Yuck.  And that's after spending all that time to mix the dough, chill the dough, roll it out, and bake it.

The cookies here were made with totally awesome sugar cookie dough.  These cookies are crisp.  An added bonus is that the dough, when properly chilled, is easy to work with.  This recipe will not make a lot of cookies.  Scraps can be re-rolled no more than twice.  After the 2nd time, gather dough and roll into 1" spheres.  Flatten to 1/4" and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  If you have festive sanding sugar on hand, feel free to sprinkle some on.  Pics of these cookies can be found near the bottom of this blog entry, just above the recipe for royal icing.  Sanding sugar will remain intact during baking.  Another option is to leave these buttons plain so they can be decorated with icing.  Bake as directed below.

Decorating these cookies is the ultimate way to make these cookies outstanding.  I rely on 2 different icings to get the effect I want.  The bells, stockings & candy canes were decorated using a corn syrup icing.  This icing doesn't dry as firm as royal icing, but the colors are vibrant, and its a lot more convenient to make different colors.  The icing has a nice almond flavor to it.  The snowflakes and round shapes were decorated with royal icing.  Royal icing dries harder than the corn syrup icing, but its inconvenient to make more than one color at a time, and colors are muted rather than vibrant.  Royal icing has no particular flavor, other than sweet, so if I'm using royal icing, I make sure that the cookies are made with almond extract.
click on recipe titles below for printable recipes
Rolled Sugar Cookies

     1/2 c butter, softened
     1/2 c sugar
     1 egg
     1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract
     2 c flour
     2 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and extract.  Stir together flour and baking powder.  Add to butter mixture.  Pat dough into a flattened square, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Working with 1/3 of dough at a time, roll out (1/4" thick) onto lightly floured surface and cut with desired cookie cutters.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 19 minutes.  Remove to wire rack and cool completely.   

     2 c powdered sugar
     2 tbsp milk
     4 tsp light corn syrup
     1/2 tsp almond extract
     assorted food coloring

In a bowl, stir together sugar and milk.  Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy.  Divide into bowls and tint each bowl a different color.  Icing may also be placed in small plastic bags for piping.

     1 c powdered sugar
     3/4 tsp meringue powder
     1 1/2 tbsp warm water
     food coloring, if desired

Combine powdered sugar and meringue powder.   Add food coloring to water (color will become washed out when combined with powdered sugar, so make color strong).  Add to powdered sugar mixture.  Beat on high speed for 10-12 minutes until icing holds stiff peaks.  Place in a pastry bag and pipe designs on cookies.

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