Wednesday, December 08, 2010

ADVENTures: Sugar Cookie Decorating

It's that time again: ADVENT! In our home, we celebrate each night by opening a door in our calendar to reveal a reading from the Christmas Story, two small treats for two little elvish cuties, and an ADVENTure for the following day. We celebrated in the first week with a cookie decorating party with Kelly and Nicole. (Best holiday cookie recipe ever following post).

Here's Decorator Number One:

Scenes from decorating:

Decorator Number Two:

We had to intervene when we realized production was down and color-tinged faces were popping up left and right:

Decorator Number Three:

Our finished bounty:

Amazingly, the kids decorated most of the cookies in just under an hour, and Kelly and I finished up the remaining cookies as the kiddos played. I made one and a half recipes which yielded about 50 cookies. This recipe rocks because the cookies turn out beautifully, perfectly flat, easy to decorate, and delicious!

Sugar Cookies & Glaze
(recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook; CI rocks!!)

Makes 3 dozen cookies
prep time: 5 minutes
total time: 1 hour 15 minutes plus cooling time

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar (you can process regular sugar in food processor if you don't have superfine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, using an electric mixer (or stand mixer) on medium-low speed, then continue to beat until the mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1-2 minutes. Beat in cream cheese and vanilla until the dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Knead the dough in the large bowl by hand a few times until it forms a large, cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto a clan counter, divide it in half, and pat into 2 4-inch disks. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20-30 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375. Working with one disk of dough at a time, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Slide the rolled dough and parchment onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, 10 minutes (this is VERY important. Cookies will break/fall apart if you don't re-cool the dough).

Working with one sheet of dough at at time, cut out shapes using cookie cutters and lay on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. (While the first batch of cookies bakes, cut out cookies from the second sheet of dough and bake them while the first batch cools.)

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. When cooled, the cookies can be glazed and decorated as desired.

Glaze for Cookies
Makes enough for about 3 dozen cookies (but I always double just to have extra)
Time: 10 minutes start to finish

3 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Whisk 2 tablespoons of the milk and the cream cheese together until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth, adding the remaining milk as needed until the glaze is thin enough to spread easily. You can divide the glaze among separate bowls and add food coloring as desired.

To make ahead: Cookie dough disks can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks. Defrost in refrigerator.


mel @ the larson lingo said...

They did a great job decorating! So fun! I will have to try this sugar cookie recipe...the one I have used for the past 10+ years is ready to be retired!

Branson said...

So cute! I have such great memories of decorating cookies as a kid! I would love for you to link up with my Christmas Cookie Countdown :) And be sure to enter the giveaway... I bet your little ones would love the felt boards I am giving away! They are awesome!