Tis the Season: Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie TreeIt was all planned out down to the tiniest detail.  What I had planned for this December was to do a series of artwork based on a song.  Alas, time laughed in my direction and I was left scrambling for new quick ideas.  Hopefully next year I’ll get my butt in gear and follow through, but for this Christmas highlight I decided to derail a bit and share a somewhat family tradition.

 Every personage in my family has their duties and assignments and mine is the sugar cookie.  For the last decade I have tweaked, tinkered, and sometimes massacred a traditional sugar recipe that has been in the family for a…well a long time :D.

Sugar Cookie Snowflake n Tree

While everyone in my family have no issue smearing a slab of frosting on a carefully cut cookie, I typically went out of my way to make it as pretty as I can.  I’m sure it’s the artist in me, tangled with my need for perfectionism.  So here’s the recipe…the current version of it anyway.

*Recipe Updated*

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil /shortening/crisco
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg
  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cream together the butter and coconut oil (or shortening) until combined (stand mixer recommended).  Add the sugar.
  2. Add one egg at a time to the sugar/butter mixture.  Then add the salt, lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. (the mixture will be some-what runny).
  3. In a separate bowl sift the nutmeg, flour and the baking powder.  Slowly add the dry ingredients one cup at a time to the creamy mixture.
  4. Once all ingredients are incorporated, use a rubber spatula and scrape the sides, twisting the bowl around rolling the dough somewhat to a ball.  Place in container and refrigerate for one hour or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven at 375 degrees F.
  6. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, checking to make sure it’s not too hard to work with.  If it is’t too hard let it thaw for about 5-10 minutes.  Take about a quarter of the dough and roll it with yours hands to a ball and smack it on a floured surface.  Take a rolling pin (make sure it is floured too),  and roll your dough flat.  The thickness is up to you but I personally like a some-what thick cookie, about 1/8″ – 1/4″ thickness.  Take your cutters or cup and cut away. Use a very flat spatula to lift cut cookie to a greased cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat step Six.  Keep in mind your dough will somewhat become more difficult to work with as you continually incorporate flour into it.  If it comes to this, place left-over dough in your mixer and add a few drops of milk and mix it, checking the “softness” as you go.  Don’t allow it to become too sticky.  Another thing to note, is if the dough starts to feel greasy place the dough back into your container and into the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes. Oily dough could result in a  sticky-difficult to roll dough, and may spread out more when baked.
  8. Bake for about 6-8 minutes.  Monitor your cookies as the thickness and the heat of your oven will decipher how long in needs to be in there.  When cookies come out of the oven let the cookies sit on the pan for about 3-5 minutes before transferring them to a cool rack (or on a table laid with wax/parchment paper).
  9. Let the cookies cool thoroughly before frosting.

Traditionally speaking we used a basic butter cream frosting to frost these sweeties, but this year I chose the royal icing(with a bit of tweaking) route.  I wanted a recipe that was easier to pipe and didn’t take  a full day set.  I don’t really have a set recipe for the butter-cream, after awhile I kinda eye-ball it 🙂

Here’s a run down for a basic butter cream: (I won’t lie to you, this isn’t exact measurements)

  • 1/2 cup of soften butter
  • 2 T of corn syrup
  • 1 1lb bag of confectioner sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a cap of almond extract or vanilla
  • a few drops of milk….maybe.

Cream in order listed…when you get to the sugar, add it slowly. If it’s too dry add the drops of milk.  Sometimes I add more butter or sugar depending on the consistency I’m trying to achieve.

For the royal icing I tweaked it a bit. Adapted from MandyMortimer.com

  • 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
  • 2 Large Egg Whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cream of tarter
  • 3 tablespoons of butter, soften
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice

  • 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Whip the egg whites and cream of tarter until you get stiff peaks, sift the sugar in one cup at a time. Add the butter.   Add the juice and almond extract.  Whip til smooth. I didn’t use a piping bag (major dislike) but I did use this handy gadget.    Awesome no?

I tripled the cookie recipe and quadrupled (I needed an array of colors :D) the icing, with plenty of icing left.  How many cookies you get depends on the thickness and size of your cookie.  I’d say each recipe can make any where from 20 -54 cookies.  I didn’t count them but I’m sure ended up with around 70 cookies in total.

COOKIESHappy Baking!

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