Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sugar cookies

It's the sugar cookie time of year (then again, when isn't a good time for sugar cookies?).  One of my favorite things to do with my kids is decorate cookies.  A good sugar cookie recipe is hard to come by and I have tried many- they either stick to the counter-no matter how much flour you use, roll out too thin and won't retain the shape of the cookie cutter, or just don't taste right.  Well, a few years ago, I found this recipe on the internet (and I am not sure where)- but it is the best one I've ever used (so far).

Once, when my older brother and I were in school, my mom took my two younger sisters to a cookie club. We have this picture of them sitting with three or four of my cousins, all lined up with their decorated sugar cookies on a plate.  To this day, when my brother and I see that picture, I think we still get a little jealous that we never got to go.  So, I thought it would be fun to share the cookie decorating experience with as many people as possible and I asked my son's teacher if I could bring in cookies for the class to decorate.  My two youngest sons go to a Montessori school and their teachers were happy to allow a decorating activity into the classroom, especially the day before their Halloween parade.

I made each child a round orange cookie and brought in a tray of green icing and various sprinkles:

I then, wrote down instructions for two ways the kids could decorate their cookies (you see the candy corn for the nose, it is funny because many people from other countries have never heard of candy corn!  I brought one for each kid, worried it wouldn't be enough and there were tons leftover):

The teacher set up the activity and let the kids go up in groups of two to decorate.  Here is Hazel doing hers:

In one class, everyone chose the jack-o-lantern:

I'm not sure about the other class because they got to eat them after they made them

I think the kids really enjoyed it and I promised I'd bring some more in again around Christmas.

At home, I tried out making spider web designs in my icing and it turned out great!  It was also super easy! First, you frost a colored circle on the cookie.  Then, you put another color icing in a ziploc bag (or frosting bag if you're professional) and you cut a teeny tiny hole in the corner of the bag.  Squeeze the icing onto the cookie in a spiral pattern:

Then, using a skewer or toothpick, gently draw lines in the icing out from the center to the edge and you get a web ( my purple ones would have turned out nicer, except I got distracted and had to make breakfast- before I added the spirals- and it was slightly hardened, so it didn't move as easily), so it's best to do this all at once:

In the end, who cares what they look like, the taste so good!

Sugar Cookies:
Oven:  350'

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

In bowl of mixer, cream together sugar and butter.  Once creamy and white, add in eggs, scrape down side of bowl and mix again, add vanilla.  Stop mixing, add in flour, baking powder, and salt, start mixing again.  **If you are going to color your dough and you are only using one color, add it in at the time of flour addition, this will ensure the color gets mixed in better and I think it's easier.  If you are doing more than one color, after flour is thoroughly incorporated, separate dough, add colors, then put in covered bowls and refrigerate about 1 hour.

Roll dough out on lightly floured surface and cut out shapes. Bake 10-15 minutes, depending on size of cookie.  Let cool before frosting.

2 TBSP butter
about 1 -1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 tsp milk

Cream the butter with about 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar.  Add 1 tsp milk, keep creaming, add in vanilla and a bit more sugar, keeping adding sugar then milk until you get the desired consistency/taste you want.

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