I hope you had a Merry ChristmaHanuKwanzaa! I have lots to share, but I thought I’d start with something I excel at.
That’s right. Miss Health Nut (or Mrs, I suppose) loves making, eating, and giving away cookies. I break all my nutrition and moderation “rules” when it comes to cookies. I can pass up cake, pie, crisp…but cookies? They have to be some pretty nasty looking cookies for me to say no thanks. That’s why I don’t typically bake as much as I used to. (You know, back in the day)
Sadly, there are certain types of cookies that traditionally only appear on my counter during very specific times of year. Sugar cookies are high on of my list of favorites, but I only make them around Christmas and Valentine’s Day. (I always wondered why they aren’t called “flour cookies” since there is a LOT more flour than sugar, but flour isn’t nearly as appetizing I guess.) The great thing about sugar cookies is that they are essentially a blank canvas. You can create endless shapes, flavors, colors, etc. with the basic recipe. I like to make a big batch and do several different styles of cookie.
The ingredient list is short, but the method has to be pretty precise.
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour (plus more for dusting work surface, although powdered sugar works really well for that)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 400F while the dough is chilling, and either get your stoneware pans ready or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put your room temperature butter in a bowl. The temperature of your butter is the most important part, and often the hardest part to plan for. It has to be soft, but not runny. Firm, but not cold. You have to take it out of the refrigerator and start the exact moment that it reaches room temperature. Any longer than that, and it will be too soft. Sheesh!
Mix just a little bit, and then you need to wash your hands.
You’ll have to do the rest of the mixing by hand. It’s going to take awhile, so if you lifted weights earlier in the day, you might want to ask someone else to do it. My arms were juuuuuust about dead by the end, but trust me, there’s no other way. And you’ll make up the calories you burn by eating dough. (Just be warned that this dough does have raw eggs.)
You’ll be tempted to add more milk. Don’t!! It’s a bad idea. Really! I could never figure out why I sucked at rolling this dough out and had to add so much extra flour. It’s because I got impatient for the dough to combine and added more milk. I always ended up with a sticky, frustrating mess. If you just keep kneading and smooshing with your hands, it will come together and eventually look like this:
It’s best to refrigerate the dough before you go any further. Just wrap it in plastic wrap and hide it in the fridge (dough never lasted long in our house). This would be a fine time to preheat the oven to 400F.
When you’re ready, lightly flour (or powdered sugar) a work surface.
I find that it helps to also put a little flour on the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into whatever shape you’d like, then top with sprinkles or bake plain for about 10-15 minutes. You’ll know when they’re done because they’ll smell like Christmas and be just a tiny bit darker where the cookie meets the pan.
And there’s your canvas! I’ll share a few of my ideas and let you know how they worked out (spoiler: deliciously!! some even involved Nutella) I’ll see you again before New Year’s, but happy baking until then.