So yesterday was my big sugar cookie baking day. Or at least that was the plan. But as the day progressed… errand running (for cookie cutters no less! Our one set of snowflake cutters would have gotten a tad boring after painting the 67th one… and yes I said painting but more on that later), 23 loads of laundry (that are still piled high in our papa chair, begging to be folded) and babysitting a beloved 1 year old nephew, somehow the cookies got pushed back further and further. By the time we could sit down and actually get on with the treasured Christmas activity, it was late. And when it’s late my stumbling brain stumbles even harder.
I completely forgot that last year we had used a new recipe. It was a new dough and a new way to decorate. And it was fabulous. So fabulous that I swore off all other forms of sugar cookies and devoted the remainder of my Christmas cookie years to this lone recipe.
But what did I do last night? Gone were the memories of last year’s cookie revelation. Nope. I pulled out the bagged Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix, whipped those bad boys up incorrectly (two different ways to make them, one for rolled cookies and one for drop. I accidentally made the drop kind), had to ad-lib the ridiculously easy dough that I had the talent to screw up in order to try and make it roll-able, and then baked them. But not only did I bake them, but I forgot one of the two cookie sheets I own is total junk. It is way past it’s prime and I NEVER use it for cookies because it ruins every batch. Well, now I can’t say never. Half the cookies (the ones cooked on the only-good-as-an-oil-pan pan) came out looking like blobs… and too-done blobs at that.
Aren’t you jealous of my amazing brain?! I’m particularly fond of it myself but I could be convinced to trade… if the price is right. Say… I don’t know… free?!! I can only go up from here.
So today is Cookie Baking Day 2008, Take 2. And I’m going to let you in on my treasured sugar cookie recipe. Although you are probably well aware of it already. Several billion people are. Pioneer Woman has the best recipes and she held true to her record when she gave us this sugar cookie recipe that she grew up using. That little bit of lemon zest is a perfect hint in the baked cookies and the texture of the cookie is awesome; a little chewy, a little crispy… it’ll make everyone happy no matter their sugar cookie preference.
And her method of decorating? Revolutionary. Okay maybe not but it was for me. I know this will put me in the bah-hum-bugga-mama category but I have always dreaded the decorating of sugar cookies. It’s always a total disaster. Gobs of icing hanging off cookies and usually dripping from the light fixture too. Sprinkles galore… everywhere. I’m usually still sweeping up hidden pockets of various sugar cookie decorations (those dang little ball ones are the worst) in May and June. Those suckers are hard to capture the first 315 times you sweep and vacuum. And the finished cookies themselves? Well, let’s just say I have to put on my brave mommy-face to eat the much labored-over-with-love cookies given to me by the munchkins. As I chew, I keep telling myself that at least I can verify all hands being clean and no coughing or sneezing into the dough happened. And I try to steer my thoughts away from the fact that so much tasting and double dipping and finger licking went on that I’d probably be safer, germ-wise, just to go eat one off the sidewalk… in the Subway!
Well, that maybe a slight exaggeration but rest assured it’s not much of one. Pioneer Woman’s recipe calls for decorating the cookies before they cook, thereby eliminating the chance of germ contamination. All those bad-boy germs are killed off in the heat of the oven before the cookies touch your lips. And the decorating is very simple. Egg yolks colored with food coloring and painted on by paintbrushes. Now, my kids never feel they paint enough during the year so to get to paint AGAIN at Christmas time and on cookie dough no less is a priceless treat for them. And somehow, no matter how messy the paint job, the cookie comes out of that oven all glossy and pretty. So what if you end up with a black Christmas tree? Drizzle a little white icing over the top and add a red hot or 2o or even some of those delightful escape artists silver balls and that black tree is transformed into a beautiful piece of modern art. Don’t believe me? Try it!
I’ll try to post some pictures after we’re done just to prove that even two and three year old bakers can make eye-catching AND tasty cookies.
I’m off… to do the RIGHT cookies, the RIGHT way this time…