Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sugar Cookies

It's that time of year again! Christmas cookie time! I usually do extreme baking and spend two or three days straight baking ALL DAY LONG. Thankfully, Bryan is always here with me when we have the "bake-a-thon" and it makes a huge difference. He likes to talk about how good I am at making messes and dirtying dishes when I bake, but I would rather do all my baking in one big shot and have fresh cookies right when I need them. I wanted to be able to share some of my favorite recipes with you leading up to the holidays, so I decided to do a small batch early and share :)

I was reading one of my favorite food blogs last week and saw a recipe that looked very familiar. It was almost identical to a sugar cookie recipe that I have been using for years, so I knew it was great. Although, if you look at most sugar cookie recipes they all use basically the same ingredients. The thing that really caught my eye about this recipe was the method that she used after she made the dough. The thing I have always hated about sugar cookies is that you need to refrigerate the dough for hours before you can use the dough. I am way too impatient for that! Not only did I love the idea for speeding up that process, but the cookies she made were cute. I am all about making cute cookies. My favorite cookies to decorate are gingerbread people. We spend a lot of time making them every year. I can't wait to share the gingerbread recipe with is amazing! Watch for that coming soon..

Sugar Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks of butter) at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, about 2-3 minutes

Add the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated

In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk and thoroughly combine

With the stand mixer running, gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until all the flour has been mixed in and it no longer looks dry

***This is where I fell in love with this recipe***

Normally this is where it would tell you to refrigerate your dough for 2-3 hours or overnight. This recipe has you place the dough on a sheet of wax paper and then cover it with a second sheet of wax paper. Immediately roll the dough out and then refrigerate it for only 20-30 minutes!! You can do this because the dough is rolled out and isn't as thick! Duh! Why did I never think of that?!?

Put the rolled dough in the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and clean up your mess while you wait!

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and use your favorite cookie cutters.

I have some amazing copper cookie cutters that I use every year. They are ENORMOUS. I have no idea where I got them from, but I wish I did because I would buy more of them. I love to make giant cookies because they are much more fun to decorate. Not to mention that then I can say "I only had one cookie". he he he I suppose nobody knows that my cookie was about as big as three cookies put together!

I leave the dough pretty thick because I don't want crispy cookies. Sugar cookies are really good when they aren't dried out and I prefer them thicker than most people. If you like them thinner then you can go ahead and roll it the way you like it!

After you cut the first batch you will have a bunch of extra dough. Shape it into a ball and re-roll it between the wax paper and then cut out some more cookies.

I also had to make some cute heart shaped cookies inspired by the adorable cookies featured on the Our Best Bites blog. Easy to decorate and yummy!

I bake mine on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. I know a lot of people use silpat sheets for their cookies, but I have always used parchment and never thought I needed to buy the silpat. Maybe one of these days I should try it..

Bake the cookies for anywhere from 8-15 minutes depending on how you like them and how thick or thin you rolled the dough. Mine were very thick and took about 15 minutes, but if you roll them thinner and use smaller cookie cutters you might be closer to 8-9 minutes. Keep an eye on them once they hit 8 minutes to make sure you don't over bake them. As soon as you see the tiniest hint of color on the edge they are done.

The top should not look brown or you have over baked them. The bottom will look lovely like this if you pull them when you see even a little color on the edges.

Let them sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes to firm up and then allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

I decided to only decorate the heart shaped cookies tonight because I want to wait for Isabella and Bryan to decorate the others :)

I dipped half of the cookie in chocolate and then sprinkled on a variety of toppings. To make the chocolate dip all you have to do is melt chocolate chips with a little bit of shortening. For this recipe I used 6 ounces of chocolate chips and 1/2 tablespoon of shortening. Put them in a bowl together and microwave for 1 minute. Take it out and stir the chocolate and then cook it for another minute. It should be done at the two minute mark. Stir it and make sure it is smooth and all of the chocolate chips are melted. If you need to you can cook it a little longer, but you should be all set after 2 minutes.

Dip half the cookie in the chocolate and then decorate them with the toppings of your choice

I used crushed candy canes for some of them and mixed chopped nuts for others. I bought the nuts in the aisle of the grocery store where they sell toppings for sundaes. It is a combination of almonds, peanuts, cashews and walnuts. You can also use a fork and just drizzle some chocolate over it if you don't want to use toppings. Put them back in the fridge for a few minutes so they set up and then enjoy!

I always have mine with a nice cup of coffee. Yummy!!

Adapted from: Our Best Bites


Wilde in the Kitchen said...

I love the looks of the heart cookies dipped in chocolate. Very pretty!

Sandra said...

Amazing looking cookies! Wonderful photos!

briarrose said...

Adorable. Love the heart shapes.

BakingWithoutaBox said...

These are so very cute. Love that you dipped them. I made sugar cookie dough almost like that last night but had to freeze it (unrolled) for later. I hate waiting for it to chill out in the fridge and love that method of chilling the unrolled dough. Always a good pointer!

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