cookies

Frosted Sugar Cookies

20131201_211157

We’re a week out from Christmas, and everybody is in the spirit! After a lot of general interest in the Christmas tree, lights, and shiny decorations, Gatsby has settled back into his routine — although he loves taking naps under the Christmas tree.

Frosted sugar cookies are one of my two favorite Christmas treats (and really, holidays in general — there’s never a bad time to make them). Not fancy, but always a hit.

A few random musings about sugar cookies:

1. Santa prefers his cookie with a Diet Pepsi, and a carrot for Rudolph. He’s had enough milk, thankyouverymuch. Time for a late-night caffeine jolt.

2012-12-24_17-44-17_75

2. Don’t waste your time with royal icing. If you don’t care about eating the end product, just impressing people with fancy, pristine works of art, knock yourself out… but the reason these cookies are so popular is that the frosting actually tastes good.

20131208_173619

3. I make the frosting by feel, not precise measurements. Have plenty of powdered sugar and some extra milk on hand, and adjust accordingly.

2012-12-23_18-41-23_799

4. They freeze well. In fact, you might even prefer them that way.

A few years back, my brother asked me to bring sugar cookies home for Christmas. He picked me up at the airport, and on the drive home started munching on the cookies. When I asked how they were, he said, “They’re okay, but they’re not crunchy. Mom’s are crunchy.” He was clearly disappointed. He had no idea he’d been eating frozen cookies all these years, and the texture changed at room temperature.

5. The best-tasting cookie is either a star or a Christmas tree shape, decorated with rainbow nonpareils. End of discussion.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Cookies from Betty Crocker; frosting my own

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on size

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, if desired
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk (or more)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cups powdered sugar (or more)

Food coloring, decorating sugars and sprinkles, as desired

In large bowl, mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375°F. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut into assorted shapes with cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 7-8 minutes or until light brown. Let cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Allow pans to cool between batches.)

In a medium bowl, cream the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and spreadable, adding more milk or powdered sugar to reach desired consistency. If desired, tint with food color. Frost and decorate.

Advertisements

“Sumbitches” Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Caramel Cookies

This recipe is going to be Legen… wait for it…

20131012_210313

How I Met Your Mother is such a cute show, and I’m excited to see how they wrap up the characters’ storylines in the final season. At the tail end of last season we finally saw “The Mother,” and in the final season debut she shared some delicious cookies with Lily.

Nicknamed “sumbitches,” they’re peanut butter, chocolate and caramel. I opted for Rolos, but I think any bite-sized candy would be delicious. Just think tiny — the cookies are already big!

… dary. Legendary.

Enjoy.

20131012_211557

“Sumbitches” Peanut Butter, Chocolate & Caramel Cookies

From People.com’s Great Ideas Blog
Makes 36 cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
36 bite-size chocolate-covered caramel candy bars (I used Rolos)

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until blended.

Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients in a small bowl. Add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape a 2 tbsp. dough around each mini candy bar, using lightly floured hands, and roll into balls. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 13 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t say for certain, but I think the first from-scratch baked good I learned to make was chocolate chip cookies. If it wasn’t the first, it was certainly the most frequent recipes of my childhood. Naturally, my mom’s 1976 edition Betty Crocker cookbook automatically opens right to the page. We probably made them at least every other month.

2012-05-20_18-54-07_671

I don’t know what it is about chocolate chip cookies that makes them appropriate for pretty much any occasion. It doesn’t matter if I’m headed to the beach with friends, playing Chocolate Chip Cookie Fairy at the office, or packing a road trip kit for my best friend headed to a new job 700 miles away… they just work.

What I haven’t broken to dear Betty is that I switched recipes six years ago and have never looked back. The original appeal of the recipe was that they’re only 88 calories apiece (provided you follow the suggested cookie size). I stay with it because it’s a damn good cookie.

2012-05-20_18-38-59_824

A couple weeks ago, I made a batch and brought them to the office, just because. As always, the reaction was delightful. Sample email: “When I tell you that your chocolate chip cookie was THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE I have ever had, you need to trust that I am not just exaggerating with glee in some sugar high state of mind.”

I’m not saying that to brag — I’m just saying, it really is that good.

When your cookie isn’t overloaded with butter and Crisco, the brown sugar and salt really come out.  The dough will be very crumbly, but the texture of the baked cookie is perfect. There’s no extra butter to disguise sloppy measuring — so measure carefully, and use parchment paper.

Whatever you’re celebrating or trying to forget this week, I promise these cookies will make you smile.

2012-05-20_18-54-16_163

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Cooking Light
Yield: 4 dozen

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Parchment paper or cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Combine sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg whites; beat 1 minute. Add flour mixture and chips; beat until blended.

Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.