Thursday, December 15, 2011

sugar cookies and quick icing

cookies, frosting, sprinkles ... oh, my!

Back when our oldest boys were babies, my DF (dear friend), Noelle, and I used to have weekly play-dates (for mommies and sons).  We loved to watch the boys in all stages with a devotion only first time parents can truly appreciate. We both love the holidays and simply could not wait until these boys were old enough to participate in holiday preparations and traditions.  Once they were old enough to sit up at a table and fling food on a spoon - we had them decorating Christmas cookies.  We were determined!  Our two favorite types were sugar cookies - where they could ice and sprinkle to their hearts' content - and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies - that they would drizzle with melted chocolate.  Messy, yummy fun.  Definitely some Kodak moments!

I think Land O' Lakes published this wonderful sugar cookie recipe on boxes of their unsalted butter more than ten years ago and my adaptation is still our go-to for Christmas (and St. Valentine's, and St. Patrick's and Easter ... ).  I often keep dough in the freezer to bake in small batches throughout the season. They are yummy plain, special with sprinkles and a great project for decorating during the holidays. Here is my take and some pictures of our recent works.

Classic Sugar Cookies
adapted from Land O'Lakes
my microplane makes fine zest;
blends nicely into the dough

2 sticks of butter (1 cup), softened to room temperature
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder


Make the dough:
1. Combine the butter and sugar.  I use our standing mixer and beat till light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes.  Then add the egg and incorporate.  I scrape down the sides and add the orange juice, zest and vanilla.

2.  In a large bowl combine the flour and baking powder.  I whisk and then slowly add it  into the wet ingredients.

3.  Dump the dough onto a clean counter or large cutting board covered with plastic wrap.  I then divide into thirds or fourths, wrap each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.  I put mine in the freezer and use as needed.  I have used dough stored up to two months with success.

Cut & Bake:
1. Thaw dough overnight in the refrigerator if necessary.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Roll out on a floured surface. To keep mess to a minimum, you can roll out the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper.  We like it to be just under 1/4" thick for cutting.

3.  We have used a variety of sized cutters - mostly 3" but sometimes as small as 2".  I just check the cookies often - starting at 4-6 minutes depending on your oven.

4.  Remove when the top is no longer shiny (damp dough has a slight sheen to it) or when the edges just start to brown (ever so slightly).

5.  Leave on drying rack until completely cool.  Frost to your heart's content!

love our one eyed snowman!

This easy frosting dries quickly. 

1.  Combine 1 lb confectioner's sugar, 1 T lemon juice, 1/4-1/3 c water in a bowl. A plastic funnel made quick work of putting plain white in a tube then some custom colors into smaller tubes.  Adjust the water as needed for fluidity.

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