Thursday, February 11, 2010

My goal today is to make sugar cookies for Valentines Day....................

I have all these great sprinkles and such for decorating and I have high hopes!

I've never been a cookie maker.... 'cept one kind. I can make yummy Chocolate Florentine Cookies... but what can go wrong with those unless you over cook 'em?!

One year they asked for parent to make and send cookies to school for some special occasion and I did. They returned 'em!!!

I can do pies and they're a cinch. Pie crust and filling from scratch. You like Coconut Cream or Banana Cream or Sawdust Pie..... I can make you happy, just to name a few. But cookies get the better of me. Till now. This Valentines Day I'm gona have some great and beautiful cookies! I hope. I hope. I hope!!!

I have several books to pick a recipe from and of course, there are a billion online. I decided to go get some tips this morning. Do's and don't's. Maybe that'll help.

I made Gingerbreadmen Cookies for Christmas for the kids at church to decorate and they were really good.... maybe I'm being too hard on myself. Used an egg white frosting, a Royal Frosting version and it made then so easy for the kids to decorate.

So.... I'm thinking positive and expecting good results.... Here are the tips I found.

How to Make the Very Best Sugar Cookies
Everyone loves sugar cookies . But sugar cookies don't always turn out right. We've compiled this list of tips and techniques to help you make the very best sugar cookies.
1. Measure ingredients accurately, especially the flour. Too much flour will make your cookies hard and dry. If you scoop the flour with the measuring cup instead of spooning sifted flour into your cup, you are likely to have 20% too much flour.
2. Sugar cookies are made by the creaming method. This is the most important step in making sugar cookies—it incorporates the air into the dough that acts as a leavening agent. Use the paddle attachment of your electric mixer to cream the sugar, salt, and spices with the butter or shortening. Cream the ingredients together at low speed, not high. For light cookies, cream the mixture until it is light and fluffy. For a denser, moister cookie, cream only until the mixture is paste-like.
3. Add the eggs and liquid after creaming, beating these in at low speed.
4. Mix the flour into the creamed mixture only until it is combined. If you over-mix, you will develop the gluten and make a tougher cookie.
5. Choose a low protein flour, preferably pastry flour, for your sugar cookies. Avoid bread flours with their high protein content. All purpose flour is an acceptable compromise.
6. If the dough is too soft to work easily, chill it until firm. The dough should be pliable but not squishy soft. Handling of the dough with warm hands will make the dough soft.
7. Use no more flour than necessary to dust the counter. The flour will work into the dough for a drier, tougher cookie.
8. Too much re-rolling will make for tougher cookies. Not only does successive re-rolling work the dusting flour into the dough, the continued working of the dough develops the gluten.
9. When cutting shapes, make the cuts as close together as you can to minimize the amount of dough that will be re-rolled.
10. Most recipes call for the dough to be rolled to 1/8 inch in thickness. This creates a crisp cookie. For a moister, less crisp cookie, roll the dough to 1/4 inch only.
11. Remove the cookies from the counter with a thin metal spatula.
12. When garnishing cookies with sprinkles, drop the decorations from a height of eight or ten inches for a more even distribution.
13. The size of the cookies will affect bake times. Put like-sized cookies on the same sheet.
14. Do not over bake cookies. Thin cookies will bake in seven or eight minutes at 350 degrees. Thicker cookies will take ten or twelve minutes. Cookies on darker pans will bake in less time. When done, the cookies will still be pale-colored with just a tinge of brown at the edges.
15. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Do not frost them until they are completely cooled.
***To decorate with colored sugars: Prepare cookies by brushing with heavy cream or an egg white slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with decorative toppings.
***To decorate with food colors: Mix 1 egg yolk and 1/4 teaspoon water. Divide mixture among several custard cups. Tint each with different food color to make bright colors. (If paint thickens while standing, stir in a few drops of water.) Paint designs on cookies with small paint brushes.

This is the recipe I'll use:

(Makes 84, see, I'm not thinking small)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups butter, softened (do not substitute!)

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F.Cream sugar and butter till fluffy; add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture till completely blended
. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie
cutters dipped in flour to prevent sticking. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet.Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until just faintly golden around edges. Remove from oven
and allow to cool completely on wire racks. Decorate with frosting if desired.


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