My mom never made sugar cookies, well, not the kind you see today. She would make her version (or recipe) that were a sour milk cookie with a dough that you rolled out. I remember making them once, then staying up really late (I think I was in HS) by myself to decorate them. What I remember most was that they were a lot of work to decorate.
Then, with the birth of my middle daughter, co-workers sent me a cookie bouquet. OMG did I ever love those cookies and thought, I need to make these. Of course, I recognize my limitations with regard to how they would look* but I still thought I could get close. And as luck would have it, Ladies Home Journal happened to put a recipe in one of their magazines for a Soft Sugar Cookie. Right up my alley. Here it is:
1 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange zest
4 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces sour cream (I use lite)
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar, beating 1-2 minutes). Add eggs, vanilla and orange zest and mix well. Add in flour mixture alternately with sour cream scraping the bowl often until well mixed. Divide dough into 3 equal portions, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm (several hours). Note...this dough is VERY soft when it warms so work with it quickly and be sure to keep your surface well floured. It's the softness of the dough that makes the cookie so tender so working with it quickly helps you NOT to incorporate too much flour.
Heat oven to 400. On lightly floured surface roll out dough one portion at a time, keeping the remainder refrigerated, to 1/4 in thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, place on cookie sheet (those AWESOME aluminum ones you went out and bought from Sams Club because you NEEDED good cookie sheets) 1 inch apart. If you are NOT decorating with frosting, you can sprinkle with colored sugar and bake for 6-9 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown. Let cool slightly on pan before removing to rack to cool completely.
Now, I will be up front and honest when I say, I love watching Martha Stewart especially when she works with Royal Icing, BUT, that stuff scares the sh!t out of me. I have never tried it either, but it does. So one day I went searching for a recipe that was similar and came across Toba Garrett's Glace. It's super easy to make and to work with:
1 lb confectioners (powdered) sugar
3/8 cup milk (I use skim)
3/8 cup corn syrup
flavoring and colors (I actually use concentrated food gel/paste to color)
Mix all together well.
Now, what I do is I found these squeeze bottles at Walmart and bought a bunch at $.50 each and fill those with the icing. It makes it easy to control where it goes. If you get your icing to the right consistancy, it will not drip off the cookie. I use the same process as Martha (just a little more ghetto) by outlining the cookie then flooding it (although I have found that using the tip of the bottle to move the icing around allows you not to over flood and the icing will stay on the cookie). Sometimes I'll add colored sugars, sprinkles, or even additional colors and take a tooth pick and drag it through the cookie to create some fun designs. Here are my girls (and her buddy) decorating:
ENJOY...I always do.
*oddly, in only a few areas do I really care about looks. And cookies seem to be one of them. I've had to learn to let go. Not an easy task but then the alternative is me being up until 2am decorating cookies. I've decided I like my sleep more than pretty cookies.
13 hours ago