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Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Sugar Cookies and a Merry Christmas Post

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It’s the 25th December. Merry Christmas!

Thursday last week I made Sugar Cookies. I know nothing about making Sugar Cookies, and even less (can you get less of nothing?) about icing them. So naturally I needed to give them a crack. Nothing like a little more pressure at Christmas time, right?

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I’d read quite a bit about Sugar Cookies, and an equal amount of how to make Royal Icing, flood cookies, store/freeze cookies and everything in between.

I think the making of them turned out just fine.

Dough-2

The only challenge I had was how to get the dough into the fridge to “rest” for the hour prior to cutting. Thankfully one of my more sturdy placemats was just the perfect size to fit on a shelf in the fridge.

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I had a new cutter arrive last Monday. When I ordered it I didn’t even look to see how big it would be. The Reindeer surprised me by it’s size. I decided to make a couple, one each for my youngest niece and nephew who were travelling down from Wellington to spend Christmas with the rest of the family in Christchurch.

BeforeAfter1-2

I popped into The Homestore to get some Wilton #2 tips which I needed to pipe the outline of the shapes, and flood the cookies. While I was there I picked up another couple of shapes. The shooting star reminds me of Lisa from The Simpsons. I don’t even watch The Simpsons, I don’t even like The Simpsons. But still this cookie shape reminds me of Lisa. Do you see what I mean?

And after all the baking I made a start with the outlines and also decorating some Shortbread and Gingerbread biscuits I made with ceramic moulds.

MakingAStart-2

I’d earlier thought that leaving the majority of the cookies with outlines would make a nice activity for the family following lunch.

Family

We (Mr Fussy) put the borrowed table (there was 17 of us for lunch, even our big dining room table didn’t stand a chance) out on the porch and we all trudged out with the icing and a reasonable selection of decorations. I let everyone keen to let their artistic side shine, shine. Isaiah and Dayna mostly worked on their Reindeer and made a really good job, I mean really good for a 7 and 8 year old.

Jasmine (who really is very artistic with canvas and paint), Caitlin and my sisters Japanese student Nanase were on the opposite side getting very fancy with some intricate designs. Even Kade decorated a cookie which got the Kiwi bloke nod from my brother indicating a job well done.

Family2

There were onlookers too, in the form of the “men”. I’m not sure if they were providing encouragement or waiting for an opening to become available.

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Given this was the first time I’d ventured into sugar cookies for decorating, my nieces thought I had a really good selection of “things” and appeared to know how to decorate, having given them a few tips. Let’s be honest, those few tips are the ONLY ones I had.

Decorating

I’d recommend making these cookies, and if you’ve got young ones (or not so young ones), decorating the cookies is a fun activity. Looking on is also as much fun. Of course tidying up and washing all that dye coloured icing isn’t so much fun. There were some very interesting new colours mixed. Isaiah ended up with a very cool Camo cookie. It had the right shade of Olive green and Black going on.

The recipe I used is from Marian of Sweetopia

The recipe below is word for word:

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

2  1/2 cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 3 tsp vanilla)

5 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder (*take this out if you don’t want your cookies to spread)

1 tsp salt

Instructions:

1. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed.  (Use the paddle attachment).  Mix until thoroughly incorporated – for about one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more.

Over mixing the butter and sugar in this step will cause too much air to be incorporated into the dough.  If you’d like a light and fluffy cookie, that’s ideal, however the dough will spread more during baking; not ideal if you’d like the cookie to hold its shape.

2. Add eggs slowly and mix.  Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.

3. Cut open your vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out.  Add to mixing bowl.  Alternatively, add liquid vanilla extract.  Stir briefly.

4. Sift your dry ingredients together.  (Flour, baking powder and salt).

5. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl.  Place a large tea towel or two small tea towels between the edge of the bowl and the electric mixer so that the flour won’t escape.  Mix on low speed for 3o seconds.  Remove the tea towels and observe the dough mixing; when it clumps around the paddle attachment it’s ready.  It’s also important at this stage not to over mix the dough (the glutens in the flour develop and the dough can become tough).

6. Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper.  Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

7. Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes.  Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Re-roll scraps and repeat.

8. Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again.  They will then hold their shape better when baked.

9. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C.

10. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown.  The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.

11. Let cookies cool to room temperature and decorate!

 

Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos of my “attempt” to decorate these cookies. So here’s a couple taken with my phone’s camera. You’ll have to excuse a lot, the lack of experience and the lack of editing, styling and correct exposure – and those lovely grease marks on the paper towels, oh and I have my arm creating a really unique shadow across these too.

 

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2012-12-21 20.56.20

 

My brother has just shown the photos he took. Here’s Isaiah’s Reindeer. He used some coloured fondant I had sitting around and made a carrot. When I got the Reindeer out of the freezer the legs had broken, probably because they were a little burnt to begin with. We did a little patch up, as best we knew, with coloured icing of course. Isn’t that how you fix broken legs?

IsaiahsReindeer

 

I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas Day spent eating plenty of festive food, or whatever it is that makes Christmas special for you and your loved ones.

 

This post is being submitted to Lydia of Lydia Bakes as this months submission for Sweet New Zealand.

sweetnz

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