Friday, November 26, 2010

After Your Turkey Day Leftovers...Sugar Cookies

    Not everybody does Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving. Around our house the tradition is to serve a Beehive Cake. One reason we do this is because Pumpkin Pie has never been one of my moms' favorites and my relatives won't even touch my homemade Mincemeat Pie... even though there is no meat in it. They just don't like the way it sounds. When we were living in LA full time, I always made Mincemeat Pie and Pumpkin Maple Pie for Thanksgiving. We usually had anywhere from 20 to 30 people at the house and none of them turned up their noses at Mincemeat.
   In Northern California my family has always served Beehive Cake for Christmas and Thanksgiving. It's a cake that seems indigenous only to this area (really) and there never seem to be any leftovers.
   Which brings me to the subject of sugar cookies.
   Since Thanksgiving is usually a family holiday at our house, we love to invite friends and neighbors over the day after for whatever treats might be left over.  Sometimes they bring things too,  and it turns into a day-after Foodie Swap Meet. The question I'm always faced with is what's for dessert???? This year I know what I'm serving. Sugar Cookies!
   How did I come to bake these?? Well, a few weeks back I was invited by the Culinary School at Baltimore International College, to try out one of their recipes in my own kitchen and write about how it worked out. Since the holidays were upon us, I decided that what I needed more than anything would be some cookies.  And since I'm not a huge cookie baker (Indian cuisine does not really feature cookies) I decided what better recipe to try out this time of year than one for Sugar Cookies.
   Cookies have never been a happy memory in my house. Growing up, my mom always made butter cookies which could also double for skeet shooting targets. Seeing how these turned out most likely warped me, because nothing makes me more nervous than cookie baking. I'm cool with cakes, and pies are fine, but just don't wave that cookie sheet in my face. I'll freak out.
   Not that I'm a total cookie virgin. There are basically two types of cookie that I make. Oatmeal raisin and biscotti. Beyond that, it's a total crap shoot as to how they'll turn out. This I thought, would be the perfect test for their recipe. If my cookie-challenged skills could turn out decent sugar cookies, I'd feel safe passing the recipe along. So BCI sent me a stipend to cover my cookie making costs and the experiment began.
   I printed out the cookie recipe. Hey wait a minute, some of this stuff is written in ounces. How many ounces is a cup of flour??? I asked Lord Google and in a minute had my translation and I was good to go. I was on the unbuttered chute to cookie town:

Sugar Cookies

I assembled my ingredients.
 In a large bowl I  mixed :
 1 stick of butter cut into little pieces
 With 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar. I creamed them together well with my mixer.
 So far so good. I added in:
 1 egg
  1/4 cup of milk
 1 tsp of vanilla extract and I blended it again till everything was smooth and well combined.
 So far, so good.
 Now for the delicate part. I added in:
 2 and 1/2 cups of cake flour
 1/2 tsp of baking powder
 This was mixed in by hand. The secret of these cookies as it turns out, is not to over mix.
Now comes the scary part. As a child I used to watch my mom roll her cookie dough into logs. This usually meant that hard doughy poker chips would follow. I have to admit, the log part brought back childhood cookie trauma. Okay I thought, here goes nothin'.
I sprinkled a little cake flour out and rolled a nice glob of dough into a log.
Hey, it worked! I am rollin' dough. I rolled the logs into waxed paper and made little cookie dough firecrackers.
   Just a note here. You can make bigger logs than this depending on the size you want your cookies to be. I decided to make little 2 bite size cookies, mainly because I don't trust my rolling skills (no comments from the peanut gallery please) but now I know I can make larger ones.
   I put the dough logs into the fridge to firm up and chill out. This recipe left me with about 4 small cookie sized logs of dough.
  After about 3 hours I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.
I took the dough logs out of the fridge and started slicing them.
 I laid them on an ungreased cookie sheet and flattened them a bit with my hand.
I sprinkled them with some pretty pink sugar crystals and popped them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Let me tell you I was scared. After my Floating Island experiment, I was prepared to be baking these cookies for about three days to get them right. But to my surprise after 20 minutes in the oven, this is what I got!
 Sugar cookies!!! Wheee! I was thrilled. Alan who'd been photographing the entire process thought he'd better step in and taste them "for safety sake." He kept on tasting them for a good 15 minutes.  We stacked them, and since "he touched them" of course he had to eat them... just to be sanitary.
   Here's his reaction.
 Needless to say he is a happy camper.
This recipe gave me about 40 sugar cookies. Thanks to the Baltimore International Culinary College for giving me this opportunity to work out my "cookie issues".


  1. your sugar cookies look so great. one of my few fears when it comes to dessert was the cookies, but not anymore, yeeee
    thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe with us, hope you'll have a wonderful weekend

  2. Alan always makes everything look mouth watering, what great expressions, I will just have to try these thanks Kathy and Al nice job!!! great instructions as well and Happy T Day!

  3. Looks like a winner! I'm not a pumpkin pie fan myself.

  4. They look me in the sugar cookie mode :)

    Have a great weekend :)

  5. @Mari, thanks. They are delicious.

  6. @pegasuslegend,
    yes, Alan does love his cookies.

  7. I feel the same way about making cookies. I only have a couple under my belt and the confidence isn't quite there yet. Your sugar cookies look awesome, though! I bet they were a hit. :-)

  8. Sugar cookies is just the perfect treat for the season. Love the pink sugar sprinkles!



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