December 22: Sugar Cookies

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I had some special guest stars helping me today: my three kids, and our friend Todd and his son Emmett. Emmett is 3 and embodies all the things I remember fondly about my children when they were that age. Somehow, Christmas with teenagers and a pre-teen doesn’t have the same magic and mystery that it did when they were little. Enter Emmett.

I invited Todd and Emmett over to help make and decorate cookies today, something I used to do with my kids every year, but only one day in December. It’s exhausting. It’s messy. It’s absolutely nutty. And I miss it. Sure, the kids will help me with cookies and maybe decorate a few, but it’s not the same as when it was when they were little, and I could create magic for them with some powdered sugar, food coloring, and sprinkles.

My little ones a few years ago, decorating to their hearts’ content!

I made the dough before our friends arrived and it chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours. Once they got here, we got to work rolling and cutting cookies. Emmett said he had never cut out cookies before. Even if it’s not true (not that I’m doubting a three-year-old), I’m choosing to believe that his first adventure into Christmas cookies happened with me.

We used two mixing bowls of frosting–one royal and one butter cream–and I think it was 8 different colors I mixed up. I brought the sprinkles to the table, and there we sat for about 90 minutes, frosting and laughing and watching Emmett’s eyes dance as he chose sprinkles for his creations.

When Emmett and Todd come over, suddenly my children leave their rooms to play with our favorite 3 year-old.

There’s nothing like letting kids frost cookies. It’s the wonder of childhood in its purest form.

We sent father and son home with all they made, ready for Santa to eat on Christmas Eve.

And about 30 minutes after they left, I crawled into bed, where I’m writing this from, and will shortly fall asleep. Little kids are amazing and funny and so damn cute. But they are exhausting. It was all worth it though.

Sugar Cookies
(from Gooseberry Patch’s Old Fashioned Country Cookies)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 c. butter
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar

Directions:

1. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in egg and extracts. Blend dry ingredients and stir in.
2. Refrigerate 2-3 hours. Divide dough in half and roll out. Cut out desired shapes.
3. Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes.

December 4: Gingerbread Men

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It’s just not Christmas without Gingerbread men.  (And as a writer, I can’t decide if I need to capitalize Gingerbread each time. Gingerbread. gingerbread. Eh. I’ll consult the AP guide later.)

I have a normal gingerbread recipe that’s been good to me over the years, but I realized I was out of cloves, and didn’t want to go out to get any. A few Google searches later, I found a recipe for Gingerbread men that did not have clove in it. 

After creaming and mixing and chilling, I pulled my dough out and rolled it.  No matter how careful I am, my dough always ends up looking like an Eastern European county when it’s all rolled out. 

And then, of course, the cats wanted to watch. I kept shooing them off, but they kept coming back. Zelda, the gray and beige Tortie, even tried to steal some dough. Once I threw her some on the floor, she left me alone. So my cat likes Gingerbread. Okay then. 

I cut them out and baked them and then it happened: Royal Icing Trauma. My friend Manda is a cookie baker too, but much more professional, and I asked her about her royal icing recipe. I made it, and tried to decorate my gingerbread people. 

They did not turn out well at first. 

This was so not Manda’s fault. I texted her some pictures and she told me that royal icing is something you need to thin. Once I did, they turned out much better. 

I had a lot of fun decorating these. Besides the traditional gingerbread man and woman, I made a skeleton, a queen, a Hawaiian girl, two reindeer, and some beach bums. For someone that never enjoyed coloring (it still stresses me out), this surprised me. 

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie

(from Sweetapolita.com)

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 cups (815 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (283 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (220 g) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (220 g) cooking molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl between additions. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Dough should be soft (not dry or crumbly) but not sticky. If sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour until desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Divide the dough in 2, place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap, press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2″ thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Chill the discs of dough for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of lightly floured parchment or wax paper (I use a silicone rolling mat underneath to ensure it doesn’t slip while rolling, but you can even dampen counter so the parchment sticks a bit.), then place two 1/4″ wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Roll dough (this will require a bit of elbow grease for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) so it’s flush with dowels–they will ensure that your dough is even thickness.
  7. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or freezer for 15 minutes (or more).
  8. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two or three baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment. Remove the rolled dough from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters or template of choice, placing them on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the edges just start to brown, about 8 minutes for medium cookies, and 10 minutes for larger cookies (such as those in the photos).Be careful not to over-bake, or cookies will be dry. Collect remaining dough and re-roll once, repeating cutting and baking steps. Dough rolled out more than once will be a little tough, so it’s best to keep it to a 2-time roll-out maximum. 
  9. Cool sheets on wire racks for 20 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling. If cookies are too fragile, you can cool completely on trays.
  10. Decorate with royal icing, candies, sprinkles, and more.

Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

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When I think of the flavors I love, the top two are lemon and caramel. (What, you don’t sit around and think what two flavors you would want if you could only have two flavors for the rest of your life? Yeah…me either…) And since I live in the south now, sometimes I am blessed with a bag of lemons straight from someone’s tree. img_0028

(You can grow LEMONS and other citrus fruit down here! It still blows my Northern Girl mind!)

Mini- Me’s friend’s grandma gave us a bag of lemons and satsumas before Thanksgiving, and I thought there had to be a recipe out there for a deliciously lemon cookie.

I found one on Pinterest and went to work. Though as tasted the dough, I realized that it was not lemony enough for my liking. And then this Northern Girl realized that the lemons that grow down here are Meyer Lemons, and not as sour as your everyday lemons. Oh well.

To try and rectify my sourpuss sensibilities, when it came time to make the lemon icing, I improvised a little. Instead of just powdered sugar and water, as the recipe calls for, I tried to make a sour lemon icing with the juice from the Meyer Lemons and sugar, boiled and reduced in a pot, and then added to powdered sugar.

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The result? Lemony icing, but still not sour enough. Oh well. They still taste good to the non-lemon flavor purists out there, and that’s a success in my book.

 

Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

(from Swankyrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Icing (as they wrote it, not my 24daysofcookies.com variation)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar

Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl fit with a paddle attachment of a mixer. Cream together for about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and continue to mix. Add egg and vanilla extract and continue to beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add half the flour, all the baking soda, salt, cornstarch and lemon zest. Add lemon juice and the remaining flour. Mix to combine until the dough starts to form like a ball. Add a little more flour until slight ball starts to form. Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2-3 hours or up to a few days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie dough. Roll cookie dough between hands to get a nice round ball and place on prepared cookie sheet.Bake for 8-10 minutes, removed from oven and while still hot, slightly press down if desired. Allow cookies to cool down completely before transferring. Cookies will slightly harden overnight a little more so don’t bake them much longer.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar and water together in a small bowl. Whisk fast until ingredients are combined with no lumps. Dip cookies upside down into icing or drizzle icing over the top and allow to harden.

December 15: Orange Drop Cookies

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This cookie comes with a story. I mean, they all come with a story, but this one comes with a recent story.

We had an apple tree at our old house in Wisconsin. We got it (and another one that didn’t make it) many years ago when our city cut down our large tree for power line reasons, and we got three new trees out of the deal. (Other one was a beautiful Blaze Maple.) Hoover, our middle son, loves apples, which is why we chose an apple tree.

Fast forward to now, and we live 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, where we have no apple trees (I don’t know if they grow here or not, but we don’t have access to one anymore).

Hoover has always been obsessed with seeds and planting and all sorts of stuff. He used to save his orange seeds in Wisconsin to try and plant orange trees. Guess what; it didn’t work.

But, do you know what does grow in Southwest Louisiana?

The other day, our grandfatherly neighbor came to the door with a grocery bag full of oranges from his tree. Hoover’s enthusiasm seemed to charm him, and he then offered Hoover the chance to pick oranges whenever he liked. Hoover and I went to his side yard and encountered a 20 foot Satsuma Orange (or tangerine, possibly…jury is still deliberating what a Satsuma really is–other than a scent at The Body Shop) tree.

Walter (not the neighbor’s name, but it’s something like that) is lousy with oranges, and looks to be quite sick of them, much like my dad was when he had two giant apple trees. He emphasized that any time he wanted to pick oranges, Hoover (and his brother and sister) could and should, otherwise they’d just go to waste.

Didn’t have to tell this kid twice.

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He asked me if I could make orange cookies with the oranges. Many years ago, I made Orange Drop cookies, so I knew I could. And how can you resist fresh oranges?

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This is some of Hoover and Mini-Me (my daughter)’s second stash, after they juice a half-gallon of juice by hand. (And then drank it.)

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Luckily, I had a helper in juicing.

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Had to strain it so I’d just get the juice.

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Chopping a half cup of walnut, graciously given to me by my poetry professor Amy!

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Into the oven it went. Now, I’ll say this. These cookies come out looking light and airy if you do it right. I did it right. 🙂

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Seriously, don’t they look like meringue tarts?

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The frosting involved a pound of powdered sugar, and more orange juice and zest. This is probably the tastiest frosting I make, and the fresh ingredients only enhance it!

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As my kids noted, they aren’t all that orange. When I’ve made these with regular store-bought juice, they aren’t all that orange, either. But, they sure do taste (and smell…holy smokes, the smells in my kitchen…) great!

Orange Drop Cookies

(I’m sorry, I can’t remember where I got it from! If you do, let me know and I’ll credit it accordingly!)

1/2 c shortening                                   2 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar                                             1/2 t salt

2 eggs                                                 1 T grated orange peel

1/2 c orange juice                                 1/2 c walnuts

1 1/2 t baking powder

Cream together shortening and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add orange juice and mix. Blend in dry ingredients. Drop onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Orange Frosting:

6 T Butter                                              2 t grated orange peel

1 lb. bag of powdered sugar                    2 T orange juice

1 1/2 t vanilla

Cream together butter and orange peel; gradually add about half of the sugar, blending well. Beat in orange juice and vanilla. Add enough sugar to make spreading consistency.

December 10: White Velvet Cut-Outs

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I started this recipe last night since it has to chill in the fridge for awhile. I don’t have picture of me mixing together the dough, since it’s pretty basic and I feel like you all have seen enough pictures of flour in my mixing bowl.

So this morning, I took out the dough and went to work. Now that I’m done with school for the semester, I theoretically have time to do cut-outs.

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Instead of my normal bell cookie cutter, I wanted to try something I saw on the internet–triangle trees, cut with just a pizza cutter.

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Worked out pretty well.

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I realized that isosceles triangles look better than equilateral, but since Mr. Harris (my high school geometry teacher) wasn’t here to yell at me about the difference, I just triangle-d in all different ways.

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I baked them as instructed, and went to work on the frosting. Now, online, the Christmas trees were in odd colors. Hey, I’m all about odd colors.

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I did my best to recreate what I saw on the internet. I mean, I could have brought it up, but that would have been no challenge at all.

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But when it came time to do the teal, it got a little messy. So I decided to just do some graffiti frosting drizzle at the end.

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Eh. They’ll do. 🙂

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White Velvet Cut Outs

(from Gooseberry Patch’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Cookies)

1 c. butter, softened                           1 egg yolk

3 oz. cream cheese, softened              1/2 t vanilla

1 c sugar                                          2 1/2 c flour

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Beat in sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla, then stir in flour. Gather dough in a ball and chill overnight. To prepare, pre heat oven to 350. Rolll dough out to 3/16″ and cut into desired shapes. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are light brown.

December 8: Peppermint Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I bought some starlight mints the other day, and I’ve been itching to use them. (You’ll see why in a minute.)

I pinned these a few days ago because they looked pretty. But the instructions, as I discovered, are written by pretentious cookie snobs who want to make sure you are doing everything exactly right. Dear Control Freaks: You can’t control everything.

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This is my butter/crisco/sugar mix. According the instructions, this is supposed to be pale and fluffy.  (“In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, on medium speed, whip together butter, shortening and sugar until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed.”) Um, it’s crisco and butter and sugar. Unless I’m sacrificing a goat in there, it’s going to be pale and fluffy no matter what. (Also? You spelled “scraping” wrong.)

I added the rest of my ingredients and then was met with this bossy instruction:

“Transfer dough to an airtight container and refrigerate 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 during the last 10 minutes of refrigeration.”

Don’t tell me what to do.

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My mixer bowl and plastic wrap worked just fine, thank you.

When my chilling time was done, I scooped three balls into my hand with my 1T scoop because it calls for 3T. Math.

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And then…”Place dough ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle top lightly with flour, then using something flat and smooth (such as the storage container lid), press and evenly flatten dough to 1/2″ thick. Transfer flattened dough to a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough (you’ll have to use 2 cookie sheets).”

I have time and inclination for none of this.

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Worked just fine.

While my slummed-down cookies were baking, I mixed together the frosting.

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And I don’t care who you are: powdered sugar is going to get you.

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After all of this, my starlight mints were waiting.

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Hang on.

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That’s better.

Yes, I smash them to smithereens while in the wrappers and still in the bag. I find it controls the carnage better. And then you just unwrapped the wrappers and fill your bowl with mint bits.

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It’s such a good stress reliever.

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Cookies cooled and frosted, and decorated with the fruits of my labor.

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Peppermint Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 15 bakery size cookies

Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting work surface
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup all vegetable shortening (unflavored), at room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 large egg white
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
    • Crushed candy canes, for topping
Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

  • Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, then whisk it just a few times, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, on medium speed, whip together butter, shortening and sugar until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in egg and mix until combine, then add egg white, vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until combine. With mixer running, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combine. Transfer dough to an airtight container and refrigerate 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 during the last 10 minutes of refrigeration.
  • Scoop dough out about 3 Tbsp at a time and roll into a ball. Place dough ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle top lightly with flour, then using something flat and smooth (such as the storage container lid), press and evenly flatten dough to 1/2″ thick. Transfer flattened dough to a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough (you’ll have to use 2 cookie sheets). Bake in preheated oven 9 – 11 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
  • For the frosting:
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Add peppermint extract and powdered sugar and mix until pale and fluffy.

December 9: Peppermint Meltaways

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These were a big hit last year, and because I pander to the general public for attention, I decided I had to make them again.

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And the mess begins. Because this recipe calls for more corn starch than I used to use in battling my kids’ diaper rash, it got a little out of hand. And cup. And counter. I’ve clean it all up three times now, and I’m still slipping on the floor where it happened.

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I added some green Wilton food coloring to the batter this year, because I think you all know by now that my policy is “the more artificial colors there are, the better the cookies will taste.” This is the Kelly Green, and I think it turned out really well.

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With my handy-dandy (sorry, left-over from the kids’ Blue’s Clues days) cookie scooper, I doled out a dozen slippery spheres. And Hoover, my middle guy, decided it was his job to lick everything once I was done.

Hoover, making sure no leftover batter went to waste.

Hoover, making sure no leftover batter went to waste.

Let the cookies cool on a rack while you make up the frosting.

Gandalf kept an eye on these for me. (Don't worry, Mom, he didn't go on the table.)

Gandalf kept an eye on these for me. (Don’t worry, Mom, he didn’t go on the table.)

I used the recipe for the frosting, and had to actually make it twice because I ran out half-way through. I found it a little thick, so keep that in mind. And, of course, more food coloring. This time, it was from AmeriColor and it’s their “Super Red.” I wanted Wilton to go the distance for me, and in all colors but red they have. I needed something to put Santa to shame this year, and I’ve found it.

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I threw it (again) through my pastry bag with a big star tip and just plopped a big dollop on the tops of all of these cookies. I didn’t think about it at the time, but they have a certain rose-resembelance now.

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The fun part was crushing the candy canes. I put these guys in a ziploc bag–still with the wrappers on–and closed it. Then I took my super-heavy Pampered Chef meat tenderizer and crushed the hell out of them.

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Side note: I made these last year the same way. Since then, I have noticed a notch missing from my stove. I could not figure out how this happened. Well, as I pounded this years brave peppermint soldiers, I figured it out. I must have hit the side of my stove with the meat tenderizer last year, because I did it again this year. So now I have a bigger notch missing from my stove, but fewer questions as to why.

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I sprinkled the candy cane ashes over my cookies as a garnish and boxed them up. These will certainly be the first cookies my kids devour in full this year.

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Peppermint Meltaways

(from tasteofhome.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • FROSTING:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring, optional
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Directions

In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Shape into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a small bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners’sugar, milk, extract and, if desired, food coloring; beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies; sprinkle with crushed candies.

Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Cookies today: 41

Cookies this year: 376

December 6: Gingerbread Men

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I venture to say that Gingerbread men and women are one of those things that it’s “just not Christmas until…”they show up in a box of cookies.

Now, to that end, I have made them today–but I really don’t like them. I don’t know why. I like molasses. I like ginger and cinnamon and all the other Christmas spices. But somehow, I only like the smell of these.

But that little red-headed girl of mine just loves them. So I make them.

I start with shortening. Now, if you’re a novice baker, let me tell you that shortening means Crisco. You can use butter or margarine if that’s all you have, but generally if a recipe calls for shortening, you best find the white grease and use it. Because my mom is southern, I grew up with Crisco and thought everyone knew what it was. Since growing up and moving to Wisconsin, I have discovered that this is simply not true.

While my shortening was being beaten, I dug out the two jars of molasses from my fridge. I use molasses two times a year–when my mom is visiting (because you dip biscuits in molasses if you’re from North Carolina) and when I make gingerbread cookies.

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It takes a while to get all the molasses out. I have two jars because a few years ago, I decided it was easier to just get a new unrefrigerated bottle and use that than it was to pry open the bottle in my fridge and attempt to pour it out.

But enough about my problems.

Once I add the molasses, sugar, and egg, I get my gingerbread voodoo spices out and go to work. Spices and baking soda goes in, and then the flour. Most people would stop the mixer to add things.

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Not me. Nope. It’s just not worth it unless I can try to time the beater’s revolutions with the adding of the flour. Sometimes it gets messy. (Okay. It’s most of the time.)

Throw it in the fridge and attempt to get the rest of your Christmas crap done.

Fail miserably, and three hours later, roll out your choice of gingerbread shapes.

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I am a purist and go for the men and women, but there’s no law saying you need to.

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While you are busy rolling out the second tray of cookies, yell at your kitten for jumping on to the first tray sitting on the table, throw out those cookies, and mumble under your breath.

A naughty kitten did this.

A naughty kitten did this.

Once they are cooled, you can decorate them. I use a Wilton bag and a small round tip. Sadly, this year I didn’t make any anatomically correct gingerbread people because my kids were home. I mean, not that I’ve ever made them in the past…

Mini Me was sad when she got home from school, and this particular gingerbread man had a frown instead of a smile.

Mini Me was sad when she got home from school, and this particular gingerbread man had a frown instead of a smile.

Mom’s Gingerbread Cookies
(from Gooseberry Patch Old-Fashioned Country Cookies)

Ingredients:

1/2 c. shortening
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 egg
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves

Ingredients for Powdered Sugar Icing

1 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/4 t. vanilla
1 T. milk

Directions:

1. Beat shortening until softened. Add molasses, sugar, and egg, beat again, and add spices and soda. Beat again and add half the flour.
2. Add the rest of the flour, mixing well.
3. Refrigerate for three hours
4. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies.
5. Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes, ice with powdered sugar icing

Cookies today: 35

Cookies this year: 281

November 16: Pre-game

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Like any good professional with a deadline, I have to make sure I’m warmed up.

And, like any good double X-ed person out there, I tend to visit Pinterest with lots of good intentions.

For your reading pleasure, I give you:

Web-lebrities*, They’re Just Like Us!

(*Some liberties have been taking with considering myself a web-lebrity.)

I saw a pin and wanted to try it out. Maybe you’ve seen it? It’s the one about how to ice cookies really fast, with gorgeous results.

(You can see my Pinterest page and the board this pin is on HERE.)

I bought a bag of pre-done cookie mix yesterday. I didn’t concern myself too much with the guilt of not making these from scratch. After all, it was the frosting of the cookies I was practicing, not the baking.

After the kids went to bed, I mixed it all up, cut some cookies and threw them in the oven. That’s when I mixed up the icing from the recipe.

I think I mis-counted how many cups of powdered sugar I poured in, because my mixer now smells like a fire at a tire factory. It was just too thick. I added more water. And more water. And a little cream. A little more water.

Finally, I could pour my icing into my shallow dish. The instructions said to use a lollipop stick, secured by a rubber band. I improvised and used a small spatula and two rubber bands linked together. I was so happy I saved these from newspapers this week, you have no idea. Seriously. It’s a personal success.

 

I was going for red. After the third hunk of Red Wilton dye, I gave up. There is only so many artificial colors I'll let my family eat.

I was going for red. After the third hunk of Red Wilton dye, I gave up. There are only so many artificial colors I’ll let my family eat at once.

I then dipped my cookies.

Smothering sugar cookies to a delicious death.

Smothering sugar cookies to a delicious death.

And in the end, this is what I had:

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

Wait. Wait, what’s that under the tray of beautifully iced cookies?

::hangs head in shame::

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Those are the cookies that died in battle. You see, some of my cookies were too soft to withstand the thick frosting. Some, like the snowflakes, had too many intricate parts and things broke off. And still, a few more were sacrificed under the “trial and error” category. That is, it took me a few tries to figure out how to hold a cookie the right way to get it frosted in this method.

After completing all of this and sitting down to my computer (thinking of all the snarky comments I could make about how maybe mere mortals like myself were better off with a knife or pastry bag), I re-read the instructions. Wait. That’s not right. Re-reading makes it sound like I read them fully to begin with. Yeah, notsomuch.

What it says in the instructions is basically what I learned the hard way: soft cookies don’t work well, thicker cookies hold up better, and this icing is like glue that you may need to water down.

Reading: it’s not for every one.