Sunday, March 23, 2008
Easter Sugar Cookies
One of my many wonderful Christmas presents this year was a set of Easter Cookie Cutters. I actually really suck at decorating cookies, but I get weirdly excited and happy by the prospect of sitting down with sugar cookies, frosting, sprinkles and pastry bags. I chalk it up to being my mother's daughter since many of my memories as a kid involve her making some elaborate, fancy, beautiful decorated cake for some occasion or another. I keep telling myself that I will never get better if I don't practice and that I'm sure my mother had to start somewhere too... but my cookies always look put together by a 5-year-old, as opposed to a well-planned and perfectly executed decorated treat.
*shrug* practice makes perfect...
The good news is that my cookies taste really good. :) I got yet another new baking book -- Great Cookies by Carole Waters -- and gave her sugar cookie cutout recipe a try. Actually, she had a couple of recipes in the book, and I tried the one titled "neil's scalloped sugar cookies." The dough went together quickly and easily in the food processor. It was easy to work with after chilling in the fridge for an hour, and the cookies were soft and only slightly sweet the way a good cutout cookie should be. I considered using her glaze/frosting recipe, but in the end my love affair with the melted butter/powdered sugar/milk glaze won out so I went with that. I've been burned by nasty powdered sugar glazes too often in the past....
The instructions call for decorating these with sanding sugar before baking, I just skipped that step and made my favorite powdered sugar glaze (2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbsps melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, enough milk to get the consistency I wanted) for decorating the cookies after they cooled.
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
3/4 cup strained confectioner's sugar, spooned in and leveled
2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 2 tsps of water
Pearl sugar or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling
Make the dough: Place the flour, confectioners' sugar, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse four or five times to combine, then process for 10 seconds, or until the mixture is the texture of fine meal.
Combine the yolks and vanilla and with the food processor off, add to the work bowl. Pulse two or three times then process for 8 to 10 seconds, or just until a mass forms. Empty the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days.
Bake the cookies: Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter cookie sheets.
Working with one fourth of the dough at a time, roll on a floured surface until 3/16 inch thick. Using cookie cutter, but into the desired shapes. Transfer the cookies to a sheet of waxed paper and brush with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar.
Place on cookies sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are just golden brown.