Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sugar cookies a few ways and a few memories.


                                                  My very first attempts at sugar cookies.  

  So I love baking, you will figure that out soon enough.  I have such great memories of baking with my mom.  Growing up my mom was the one making cakes and baking away.  She got my sister and I matching Robin Hood baking aprons and hats, she had one too!  (my son now uses my little one, he loves to bake with me and grandma.)  My favorite memories are when my mom made cookies or pie, she would give my sister and I each some dough to play with and then she would bake it up.  My dad always said he liked ours best,  but I bet he thought it was gross. Oh well he was good that way:)

 So I like to share baking with my son when I can.  I will share how we made chocolate chip cookies in another post.  But today I am talking about sugar cookies.  As with most things I found these great sugar cookies on line, somehow I found this great website called I am Baker.  The lady Amanda does some great stuff, and she doesn't use royal icing like most.  Which really made me happy, I hate royal icing, or at least from what I remember I do.  It seems like a lot of work, and I want things fast and easy.  So the glaze that Amanda uses was wonderful.  I even emailed her once when I had a question and she got back to me so fast.  Really nice:) 

  Anyway her recipe is on her site, I will share it with you here, she calls it her amazing sugar cookies 2.  Or some such. 

Amanda's Amazing Sugar Cookies
  • 1-½ cup Butter (I Use Unsalted)
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 2 whole Eggs Yolks
  • 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons Almond Extract
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until well combined, about 2 minutes. 
Add in 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks and mix until combined. 
Add in vanilla and almond extract; mix until combined. 
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly (about a cup at a time) add flour to butter mixture and combine. You can use a mixer or not, just depends on how strong you are. ;)
I usually just mix ingredients until they are combined, as I have heard that if you over-mix this dough it will get tough. 
Put dough in some Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out, cut out cookies, and bake for 6-8 minutes

  I love how easy it is, but I had to change one thing, and only because I want to look fancy.  I found vanilla bean paste at the store and thought, this has got to be good.  And it is!  So because it cost so much I use half paste and half regular old vanilla.  So half and half and it tastes so great, just be aware that there looks to be a million little black specks in the cookies, that is the vanilla beans.  Try it, you will love it.  Either way with or without paste this is a great cookie.

                                   Here is my bottle of vanilla bean paste,  I use a medicine cup     
                                  that I got from one of my sons cold syrups and it is much easier than using a 
                                                                        measuring spoon.

                           When I make cookies I always measure out what I need all at once then it makes it so                          
                                      fast to put it all together, her I was making 4 batches. 

  Now in baking these I found that my cookies were spreading, and they still do a bit.  But with a lot of blog reading I have found a few things that help. 

1. do not over beat or mix your cookie.  So just beat the butter until it is mixed then the same with everything else.  Like the flour, I just mix it until almost combined in the mixer then I use a special dough mixer I got at the local store.  It is awesome and so much easier than your hands or a spoon.

This is called a dough mixer, I got it at Goldas kitchen and it was like $8, and it works like a  
                                                    spoon/wisk, it really is a great tool.

2. let your dough rest, the dough is going to be very soft, so put it into the fridge for at least 2 hours, and then work with it.

3. roll your dough only up to 2 times.  This means that you roll it out, then cut your shapes then use the scraps again to roll out and cut.  But then stop, don't use it again, it has been worked too much and will spread.  I use the scraps to make test cookies or whatever, they still taste great, but they spread like crazy.

4.  use a pan liner, if you have those non stick matts for your cookie trays use those, or since I am cheap use parchment, it helps the cookie not spread so much and it makes moving the cookies after them are cooked easier.

5. Freeze your cut outs.  Once you have your cookies cut, place them on your lined tray and put them into the freezer until frozen.  This usually only takes 10 minutes or so. I usually roll and cut and start freezing about 30 minutes before I even turn the oven on, this way I have them frozen and ready to go.

    A few little things too, make sure your pans are not hot, putting cut outs on a hot tray will make them melt, so I always put them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down if I need.  I only have 8 trays and go through them so fast, so this trick really helps.  Also I roll my cookies in icing sugar instead, I read about this on a bunch of other sites too, and I really like it.  The main reason is again I am lazy.  When I clean up flour it gets my dish cloth all gross so I have to throw it out, so with the icing sugar it melts away and is easy to clean.  I read that is also makes for a less tough cookie.  But seriously people I cannot tell the difference.

  Anyway I needed cookies for three things this weekend.  One I needed cookies for a lady at hubbies work, I needed cookies for my sons birthday and I was going to use the over rolled out scraps for finger cookies. 

  As I mentioned above I contacted Amanda at I am Baker to ask her a question, the question was about freezing baked cookies.  She got back to me and told me that as long as they were wrapped really well they should be fine.  That was undecorated.  So I tried it and they turned out great.  This really helps when I have large batches to make for people and it is just me, myself and I baking.  So I can bake the cookies ahead and freeze then just take out and let thaw and ice them.  This allows me to make more cookies and ensure they are fresh as can be.  I have frozen them iced but when they thaw the icing gets sort of splotchy so I don't recommend that.  How I freeze is I wrap cookies in piles in two layers of saran wrap then put them into a zip lock freezer bag.  Works great.  So this is how I did it this weekend. 

                                       After I decorated them, the #3 for a friend of Hubby.

  I rolled out and cut out the #3 for my hubbies friend.  She wanted yellow and blue cookies for a toy story party.  Then I used a great trick and template I found on The Sweet Adventures or Sugarbelle.  That girl can really do some great cookies!  This is the first year we are not having a huge party for my son so our family is the only ones we are having.  I suggested Lego Starwars for his party, so he was so excited.  So I cut out Lego heads and rectangles for Lego blocks.  I will share that all once I decorate them.

   And for this weekends project I used the scraps to make finger cookies.  I used Americolor soft gel paste in orange and mixed my dough together.  My son said we had to make them pumpkin fingers because if we did green witch fingers they would be too scary.  I love that kid.  Anyway I mixed my dough then used my Wilton finger pans to bake them.  I got them on clearance at a warehouse sale for less than $1 each, so they were a steal and I used them once so far so that makes it a total score.

  These are the finger cookies I decorated.  My son was getting upset that the icing was so thick so I just rushed and made them look like snakes.  Very scary!!!

         At that same sale where I got the pans for these cookies I got like 1000 of these wilton boxes.  
                                              They held six cookies and they looked so cute!

  I baked the cookies for 5 minutes then put them in the fridge to cool so I could get  them out fast since I had a huge batch of dough to bake.  I let them cool then froze them.  When we were ready a few days later I mixed up a batch of Amanda's glaze.  Now I do not measure exactly but here is what she gave me to work with, and you will need to double and triple and whatnot to get as much as you need.  I find when you are flooding large cookies you need a lot of icing. 

Glaze a la I am Baker

1 TBS light corn syrup ( if you use the regular stuff you will get a weird colour)
1 TBS milk
1 drop lemon juice ( have no idea why, but it works so I don't change it)
1 cup icing sugar

  This should make piping consistency icing, to outline and detail cookies.  So when you need to thin it to flood cookies just slowly add milk until it is like pancake syrup or however thin you like it.

  I let my son pick out some colours and just put them into little bottles so it would be less messy and no piping bags to clean.  He just sort of globbed the icing all over, he thought it was great.  I made one really detailed one with a nail and a cut and blood, then I got lazy ( see a trend here?) and just make squiggles and snakes.  They looks cute and they tasted really great.

  These are my son's, he got mad at how hard it was to ice them, so they were all globby, the guys at 
                                         work loved them though, so that was all good.

  So my son ate one, and I had a few then we let them dry.  I got these super cute Wilton boxes at that clearance sale also, like 16 packs of 4 for like 10 cents a box, it was a killer sale!! So I packed some up for his teacher and he also got an alien cake pop and my kid was so proud.  I packed the rest up for my friends at work and that was it.

  I think this cookie and glaze recipe is amazing, really easy and so good.  I also use artificial almond flavoring so it is nut free.  ( make sure to check the packaging for the ingredients you use to ensure they are all from nut free places)  And that works since my hubby is allergic to nuts. 

Give it a try, and let me know how you like them:)

And I want to thank the girls at Two Peas in a bucket for their help in teaching me how to link.  I am very proud of myself:)


Qwendykay said...

Came here from 2peas! Congrats on the blog. I might make your posts a bit shorter or break them up into smaller posts. Also, you might want to add a comma to your blog title: Cake Balls, Cookies, and More

And yum.. I am so hungry looking at your photos! Blogging is addictive!!

Anonymous said...

If those cookies taste even half as good as they look I'm in love! So cute! Great blog too. Keep up the good work. :) ~ Writermom :)

A Little Time said...

Your blog looks awesome and so do those cookies!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the input Qwendykay, I have horrible grammar so I really appreciate your help:)

Thanks all:)