Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cookies, Fun And Games

Who says you can't have fun and play with your food? Even though I love a great chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie, it is so-o-o much more fun to make spirals, bull's eye, happy faces, Dominoes, and cookies with a message. My son left for college a few weeks ago and needed a few things sent, so I added some edible fun and games. Who doesn't need a smile in between Multivariable Calculus and Physics? Frankly, I'd need therapy, but I don't know of a cookie for that! Anyway, I had some new cookie cutters for the Dominoes and Happy Face, that came from a great source that you can find here. New cookie cutters are like new toys (well, for some of us :-) and I couldn't wait to try them out. I experimented with different cookie doughs and found just the right dough for keeping the shape of the cookies. Last spring, I used the Rolled Sugar Cookie dough with the Brigitte Cutter to make cookies, and it was perfect. Rolling the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and keeping it chilled are just as important as the proper recipe. I also roll all of my cookie dough between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment to prevent sticking. Just about all cookie recipes can be made in the food processor, which also adds to the ease of cookie making. I always use an insulated cookie sheet for shaped cookies. The insulated cookie sheets help with even browning and for keeping the shape of the cookie. It really makes a big difference.

I rolled,
baked, decorated with royal icing, and packed the cookies for mailing. Oh, and don't forget love, the most important ingredient!
So, use the right recipe, for ease, make it in the food processor, roll it to the proper thickness between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment, keep it chilled, and use an insulated cookie sheet and you'll have success every time.

Rolled Sugar Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large bowl or food processor, cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla extract until well blended. Add the flour and salt and mix until it begins to form a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water. Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press together to form a thick flat disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick (1/4 inch, if using Brigitte cutter), or
desired thickness. The dough needs to be just the right temperature to roll and cut properly. If it is too cold, it is hard to roll, and if it is too soft it becomes difficult to cut and pick up. Roll any scraps back into a ball and chill again. Use as little flour as possible to roll out, so they don't get tough. After cutting, place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until just lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. I use an insulated baking sheet to prevent the edges from getting too brown.

Makes 4 dozen, 3 inch (1/8 inch thick) cookies.

Chocolate Cookie Cutouts
(Adapted from Martha Stewart
's Cookie book)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.

Place butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Turn dough out onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat. Form dough into a disk on baking mat and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Lift baking mat from baking sheet. Roll out dough between baking mat and plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Transfer baking mat to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove baking sheet from freezer and trim scraps. Reroll scraps between a nonstick baking mat and plastic wrap and repeat process.

Bake cookies on an insulated cookie sheet until crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Spiral Cookies

On Parchment paper, roll out one 1/4 inch thick, 9 x 6 inch rectangle from the chocolate dough and one from the vanilla dough. Lay the vanilla dough on top of the chocolate dough, pressing gently to seal together. Roll lengthwise into a spiral and refrigerate about 20 minutes.

Slice crosswise into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Place on an insulated cookie sheet and bake about 12-15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. The cookies should be firm, but not browned.

Cool on a wire rack.

Bull's Eye Cookies

Roll out a 12 x 3/4 inch rod from the chocolate cookie dough. Roll out a 1/4 inch thick, 12 x 4 inch rectangle from the vanilla dough. Place the rod on top of the rectangle and roll lengthwise firmly. Seal the edges lengthwise by rolling with your hands on a hard surface. Refrigerate about 20 minutes until firm.

Slice crosswise into 1/4 inch circles and place on an insulated cookie sheet.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes until firm, but not browned.

Cool on a wire rack.

Rolled Sugar Cookie recipe (pdf)

Chocolate Cookie Cutouts recipe (pdf)

Spiral and Bull's Eye Cookies recipe (pdf)

Brigitte Cookie Cutter source: Harsefeld Online e-bay store
Let's Smile Cutter source: Harsefeld Online e-bay store
Domino Cookie Cutter source: Harsefeld Online e-bay store

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