Daily Archives: September 7, 2008

September’s Cookie of the Month

It’s time for another installment of IPB Living’s Cookie of the Month! I’ve been toying with the idea of making frosted sugar cookies in fun Fall shapes since… well, since summer started. I felt like it needed to be at least a tiny bit close to Fall before making them, but then this week two things happened. One, nhl.com started publishing NHL team-by-team season previews. Two, Elizabeth posted about making the cutest little frosted butter cookies in adorable football shapes. Hockey and football = close enough to Fall for frosted sugar cookies cut into pumpkin and leaf shapes!

I used Dorie Greenspan’s sugar cookie recipe from “Baking From My Home To Yours”. Dorie makes some fun-sounding suggestions for adding ginger, cinnamon, or cardamom to make the cookies more interesting (and intriguingly mentions that her grandmother would sometimes top them with poppy seeds), and I knew that any of our fun extracts would work beautifully here, but in the end I decided I should start with something plain and simple. If I liked the recipe, I could make it again with ground ginger or with lemon extract. Of course, my commitment to keeping them plain ended when I realized that, after adding the correct amount of vanilla, I was left with only about 1/3 of a teaspoon in the bottle. I’d chosen the Tahitian vanilla since it’s my favorite and leaving 1/3 of a teaspoon of Tahitian vanilla in the bottle seemed stupid. So I dumped the remainder in and declared the cookies “Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Cookies”.

The dough was crazy easy to make (I doubled the recipe) and I only had one mishap with separating the yolks from the eggs unsupervised for the first time in my life. I wrapped the halves of the cookie dough in plastic wrap, and traipsed off for a long lunch. The recipe said to cool the dough for three hours but after my last experience with rolled dough, I knew Gene the Wonder Fridge cools dough fast. The last time I had a bitch of a time rolling the rock-hard dough. This time? Not so much. Even though the recipe warned me that the dough would be very soft, I was still shocked when after cutting my beautifully rolled dough into wonderful shapes I could not move the cut dough or peel off the excess at all.

The recipe said to put the cut dough back into the fridge for 15 minutes or so. Of course, because I’d doubled the recipe, half of the dough made a disk too large to fit on a sheet in the fridge. So I had to junk everything I’d done and then split the halves into half and start again. A mild annoyance, surely, but after 15 minutes I discovered the chilling system did indeed work.

Chilled, the dough peeled like a dream! I had the excess removed, the cookies transferred to a tray, and the tray in the oven without too much trouble at all. After just 11 minutes in the oven, the cookies came out looking gorgeous!

As well as that first tray went, though, I found myself switching into “don’t waste a day off from work” mode and somehow devised the least efficient system for chilling, cutting, and baking the cookies. Roll the dough, cut the dough, chill it for 15, bake it for 11, and repeat, one tray at a time. For some reason figuring out how to streamline this process seemed like way to much work. But the time the sixth tray came around, I had finally figured it out and it wasn’t taking 90 minutes to prep and bake nine cookies. Woo-hoo!

Before I knew it, I had stacks and stacks of cookies just waiting for frosting.

After dinner, Schnookie whipped up some simple confectioner’s-sugar-and-milk frosting. With the help of some food coloring, we soon had a Fall palate of pumpkin orange, pumpkin-stem green, maple-syrup-candy brown, and… well… bright pink. We needed more Rutgers-red like the football cookies, but ended up with noxious Barbie-from-the-80’s pink. Still, we had a blast frosting them.

The end result is a very nice, simple sugar cookie. I think it would be nice with some extra spice or flavor, but even without, the cookies are delicious. They also have the perfect balance of crisp and chewy that every sugar cookie should. And the time and trouble it took to cut and frost them was worth having…

Three different kinds of pumpkins…

… Two different shapes of oak leaf…

… And a back-to-school apple!

A very, very tasty back-to-school apple.

The months of anticipating fabulous frosted Fall cookies were totally worth it; this cookie-making-and-decorating-and-eating experience was awesome!

Recipe:
From “Baking From My Home To Yours” by Dorie Greenspan”

Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 stick and 2 tbs butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

Beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Beat in sugar and mix for two minutes or so until light and creamy. Add egg and yolk and beat. Add vanilla and beat some more. Gradually add the flour, mixing on low speed, until flour is just incorporated. Dorie suggests stopping the mixer just before the flour is completely incorporated and finishing the remaining mixing with a rubber spatula. The dough with be “soft, creamy and malleable”.

Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. These cookies can be treated as roll-out or slice-and-bake. Either way, you’re looking for cookies 1/4″ thick. If you’re doing roll-out cookies, roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper and remember the dough will be very soft. Consider chilling the dough after cutting it for 15 minutes or so to make peeling away the excess and transferring the cookies to tray easier.

Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes. The cookies will not turn colors, but will by firm when finished. If you’d like, dust the cookies with sugar after removing from the oven. Let cool for a minute before transferring the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

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