Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Spirit is all about Cookies

More than ever, this year, holiday spirit seems to be tied to cookies. My perspective may be skewed slightly by the websites that I read, many of which are cooking blogs, as well as a recurring theme of trying to make the holidays healthier by either modifying cookie recipes or abstaining from cookies on Consequently, I recently made a batch of my first holiday sugar cookies and brought them to my class. As it turns out, homemade sugar cookies (in combination with the majority of the class hardly sleeping the previous night) can make grammar really exciting! Who would have thought.

I used the icebox sugar cookie recipe in the Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies (with very slight modifications, found here) and the students loved it (they were shocked the the cookies were homemade). They finished every last one.

Warning: the cooking time and the active preparation do not take a long time, but there is at least 3.5 hours worth of waiting involved. Plan accordingly.
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (5.25 ounces) unsalted butter.
  • 2/3 cup (4.75 ounces) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Thoroughly stir together and set aside the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. (The recipe says with an electric mixer and it says to soften the butter. I took the butter straight out of the refrigerator, chopped it into small pieces put it in and made it fluffy by hand with a fork. Either way works).
  3. Add to the creamed butter and sugar mixture the egg and vanilla. Continue beating until these are incorporated.
  4. Mix in the flour mixture until just smoothly incorporated.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until slightly firm, 20-30 minutes.
  6. Upon removing from the refrigerator, place the dough on a long sheet of wax paper. With lightly oiled hands, shape into an even, 11-inch long log. Roll up the wax paper and twist the end to prevent unrolling.
  7. Place on a tray and put in the freezer until completely frozen. You can also leave the log in the freezer for up to three weeks, but if you are going to do this, wrap the log in an airtight bag before placing it in the freezer.
  8. To bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease the cookie sheets or use a non-stick baking sheet.
  9. Carefully peel the wax-paper off the log and cut into 1/8-1/4 of an inch slices, immediately transferring them to the cookie sheet and spacing about 2 inches apart.
  10. Decorate the cookies with colored crystal sugar.
  11. Bake the cookies on the upper oven rack for 7-10 minutes (note:: I experimentally verified that they do not work out so well in a toaster oven-- they puff up and burn).
  12. When the cookies are golden all over, remove them from the oven. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.
  13. NOTE: these cookies do not taste good warm. I don't know why. They taste much better when fully cooled. They can also be stored, airtight, for up to 3 weeks.

Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies 

I thought I would also share some other Christmas cookie fun for the sake of your holiday cheer. Two recipes one for sugar cookies and one for "butter cookies" from My Year on the Grill. One Perfect Bite also did a holiday cookie roundup.

My mom also sent me this cute piece by a "dough artist" the other day. I have to say, as a kid, I was always disappointed watching the ball drop on TV. The ball dropping depicted by this artist is much more along the lines of what I expected.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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