Friday, December 12, 2008

Sugar Cookie 101

From the moment Isaac's blue eyes opened yesterday morning (I won't dare mention the time), he was talking non-stop about our holiday cooking making that was set to take place.

He loves to bake and has been eagerly looking forward to making this season's batch of holiday cookies. He could barely contain his excitement over our scheduled day of mixing, rolling, decorating, and baking in preparation for a cookie exchange that was supposed to take place at MOPS today.

Unfortunately, the boy was overcome with a fever mid-morning and the planned holiday baking was not quite as fun as he was hoping. The process took quite longer (due to tending to a sick child and keeping up with another who lost interest in the whole cookie making process ten minutes in) and I was still cleaning up dough and red and green jimmies at 8pm last night. We did not make the MOPS meeting this morning as planned, but rather stayed home and enjoyed some quiet time in our warm little living room (however, we did get to enjoy the cookie exchange due to some sweet friends who gathered and delivered cookies to my doorstep)

It appears as if Isaac has fifths disease, a common disease of childhood. His cheeks are quite rosy (symptom of 5th's) and the fever seems to have gone for now. Apparently such a disease is on the highly contagious side and since I routinely find Evelyn sneaking sips from Isaac's cup and walking around the house with his toothbrush, I figure it is only a matter of time before her cheeks turn rosy as well. At least its not the stomach bug...
As we are on the mend here at casa de phillips I wanted to share some fool-proof tips on how to achieve the perfect cut-out sugar cookie. Sugar cookies seem quite elementary, but can be extremely frustrating. Nothing is more aggravating than spending lots of time preparing dough, rolling it out, and cutting out festive shapes only to realize the dough is stuck to your kitchen counter or to lose an appendage to a carefully cut gingerbread person. After many hits and misses, I have developed a relatively simple (although not quick) process for turning out tasty sugar cookies.

First, use this recipe for complete cookie yumminess (slightly adapted from
3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup Crisco

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter, Crisco, and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Second, after allowing the dough to chill for about 30 minutes, roll it out in sections between two sheets of parchment paper. This allows you to NOT have to use flour for rolling out the dough (which can make your dough stiff and your cookies BLAH!)

After rolling the dough out between two sheets of parchment, throw it back in the fridge. I usually place mine on clean cookie sheets, still between the parchment. Let it sit at least an hour or up to a day.

When ready to cut out cookies, peel one side of the parchment away from the dough. Lay that side of the dough on your baking surface (I swear by Pampered Chef Baking Stones), then peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Lightly dip cookie cutters into powdered sugar (NOT FLOUR!) and cut away. Cookies will not stick to your counter because you are cutting them on the baking surface....Genius!

The key is to place all cookie cutters on the dough before you actually cut. This ensures that you use almost all of the dough in one cutting experience. Place scraps in pile and continue on with next sheet of dough. (Scraps can either be frozen for another baking experience or rolled back out, rechilled, and cut)

Bake cookies.
Allow to cool and frost.

Enjoy and share with friends.

Spend the next three weeks discovering random green and red sprinkles in the crevasses of your kitchen.


Sydni said...

You're such a great blogger! I haven't commented much lately, but I really, really enjoy your blog and am so happy this wonderful season is upon us. Enjoy!

Stephanie said...

So sorry about the fifths disease. I actually had to have blood drawn when I was pregnant with Jack due to being exposed to fifth's during VBS last year. Anyway, I brought home one of your yummy cookies, and I let Natalee select one cookie after eating all of her lunch yesterday. She picked your yellow star, and she is looking at the picture now saying, "That is the cookie I ate yesterday! Is my tongue still yellow?" Thanks!

Kelly said...

I'm catching up on blogs. Very cute cookies. Much better than my first attempt with Tate. He also had Fifths right before Thanksgiving. For the most part, the name of it seemed worse than the actual illness. Hopefully everyone is feeling better.