Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Time: Buttery Sugar Cookies

As you know, I hate baking. I am not a baker at all. Well, its Christmas season so naturally it is "lets attempt to bake something" season as well! When I was younger, much younger, my mother used to do a ton of baking; cookies, cakes you name it! I remember having to frost dozen after dozen of cookies, sugar cookies, italian mound cookies (I don't know the name!), ginger get the idea. Sadly, this tradition ended a while ago, but I hope to help revive it when my nephews are old enough to understand.

Yucky dried dough before addition of water
So lets talk a bit about sugar cookies, or as today I made, buttery sugar cookies. These are the cookies that you can cut into all kinds of fun shapes, so before you do anything, dig out those cookie cutters, its time for some fun! Luckily I found my tub of cutters that I bought from Joann Fabrics a couple years ago after Christmas (gotta love clearance sales!) so I paid probably $2-4 for 40 cutters. Not bad!

I don't have a secret recipe that I use every year for these cookies, but I did find one from a source I trust the most. I followed the recipe to a T and when I went to roll out the dough, it was a disaster. It was just pure crumbled muck. I almost threw it away and started over, but I really didn't want to at all. Baking is almost like torture so I decided to keep it. One thing that came to mind was clearly the dough was too dry, so I wet my hands and kneaded the dough and holy mackerel!!! The dough formed nicely!

So here is the recipe I used...and again if it comes out too dry, like, if you take the dough out of the fridge and it just crumbles to dust, try my wet hand kneading trick.

1 stick butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Cream butter and sugar until pale. I like to use the paddle attachment on my Kitchenaid. Then add the eggs one at a time and mix.
2. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients.
3. Slowly add the dry to the wet mixture, mixing slowly as to not allow the flour to jump out of the bowl all over your kitchen (don't believe me? Try it!). Don't over mix, maybe for about a minute until everything is combined.
4. Put the dough on wax paper, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
5. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350F
6. Divide the dough into smaller more manageable pieces, lightly flour and roll out to about 1/4" thick and begin cutting your shapes! Place cookies on a non stick baking pan, about an inch apart and pop into the over for 10-15 minutes. Don't allow these to brown, they should be quite pale. 
7. Cool and decorate!

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