Probably NOT what you think!
Certainly not any logical event like an engagement party (though we attended one for our niece, Saturday before last). OR a wedding anniversary (though these cookies ARE for an anniversary…so you’re getting close).
I’ve entered the 2011 Sonoma County Fair Theme Cookie Decorating Contest. It’s the 75th ‘Diamond’ Anniversary of our local county fair. And they were giving away FREE cookie cutters on a first come first serve basis to all contestants who entered the cookie decorating contest, ’til they ran out.
So POSITIVE those cookie cutters were going to be a geometric ‘diamond’ shape, I was thinking of all sorts of patterns and ways to decorate them. Got to the fair office early on the first day of registration, paid my $2 entry fee, and had to keep the surprise from my face when the woman at the counter handed me my ‘diamond ring’ cookie cutter!
Snickered to myself back at the car. Can’t imagine I’ll ever have occasion to use it again, except on my kitchen wall as part of my cookie cutter collection. Too bad I didn’t get to baking and decorating sooner, these would have been perfect for Kristen & Kenny’s engagement party.
The easiest cookies to cut-out and decorate are simple sugar cookies. In doing a bit of research on decorating techniques I came across the well-known blog ‘Sweetopia.’ Marian of Sweetopia.net has developed her own tried-and-true sugar cookie recipe as well as recommending a couple others.
I have an old 1965 edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook which has a sugar cookie recipe, too. So, I compared and combined Fannie’s and Marian’s for the following recipe.
Easy Vanilla Sugar Cookies (similar to Shortbread in texture and flavor)
INGREDIENTS (please use Organic if you can)
* 1 cup organic salted Butter (softened overnight)
* 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups organic Raw Sugar (depending on your taste preferences)
* 1 Egg Substitute equivalent (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)
OR 1/8 cup Buttermilk OR organic Free Range Egg
* 1-1/4 teaspoon organic Vanilla
* 2.5 cups organic all-purpose Flour
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt (depending on your taste preferences)
* 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
INSTRUCTIONS adapted from Sweetopia.
(Read her original recipe here.)
~ CREAM the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on a low to medium speed using the paddle attachment.
~ MIX until thoroughly incorporated (about 1 minute). With a plastic spatula, SCRAPE contents from sides of the bowl and mix again a few seconds longer.
NOTE: Over mixing the butter and sugar will add too much air in the dough, making the cookies spread during baking; not ideal, if you want the cookie to hold its shape.
~ ADD egg substitute (buttermilk / egg) slowly and MIX. SCRAPE down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.
~ ADD vanilla to mixing bowl. STIR briefly.
~ SIFT dry ingredients together (after SIFTING and MEASURING the flour carefully, so you don’t use too much).
~ ADD the flour mixture to the bowl (about 1 cup at a time, so you don’t end up with clouds of flour floating out of your mixer and all over the counter top.)
~ MIX on low speed for 3o seconds. WATCH the dough mixing; when it clumps around the paddle attachment it’s ready.
NOTE: It’s also important not to over mix the dough at this stage (flour gluten develops making the dough tough).
~ Between 2 large pieces of parchment paper, ROLL out the dough about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
~ PLACE on a baking sheet and put into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour (or overnight).
~ CUT out cookie shapes.
~ PLACE on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. RE-ROLL scraps and repeat.
~ 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.
~ PREHEAT your oven to 350°F (176°C).
~ BAKE cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.
TIP: Even with the refrigerated dough, the cookies spread and lost their form more than I wanted for my contest entries. So I re-cut them with the diamond ring cookie cutter, while the baked cookies were still slightly warm. If you wait until they’ve cooled completely, the cookies will be too brittle and prone to break. Another recipe…like gingerbread cookies, might be more forgiving.
~ Let cookies COOL to room temperature and DECORATE!
For the simple Butter Frosting recipe and peeks at my decorating experiments with my friend Pam, read our next post: How To Decorate Cookies With A Simple Butter Frosting.