Normally I don’t start the cookie baking season this early. It seems somewhat blasphemous to crank the oven to 375 degrees on a day where the outside temps are in the middle 80’s with lots of humidity. I must have a death wish in place for my air conditioner.
Why am I baking cookies?
My close friend is one of those people who always “does for others”. She helped me to frame, drywall, and sand a new wall in my house just after Husband #2 left in early 2013. She’s patiently listened to me cry and wallow for countless hours, without judgment. She checks in to see how I’m doing and makes sure that I don’t spend too many holidays by myself.
She also pulled a muscle in her shoulder last week.
My friend committed herself to baking cookies for her uncle’s wedding. Just 50 or so, but when the arm is in a sling, it might as well be three thousand. The hurt shoulder is on her dominant arm. There’s no way she can roll out cookies and then frost them with royal icing. Oh, and then there’s the frosting monogram….
Send out the Bat Signal, it’s my time to shine!
Baking is my thing. Pretty much anything involving powdered sugar, vanilla, and a squeezy bag with a tiny nozzle is my thing.
“Are you sure you only need 50 cookies?”
It’s not often that I get to do for her. She’s more of an extrovert and has a large circle of friends to fall back on. It’s hard to pay it forward (or backwards) for someone who doesn’t “need” help. You better believe I’m jumping at the opportunity.
So on a day where it was 85 outside, I spent time inside with cookie sheets and oven mitts. And in the end, a pile of cookies matching the wedding colors graced my kitchen counter. There are 55 of them. I even shared a few with the kiddos.
Frosting cookies takes me back to the days of my own childhood. My mother and all of the daughters would sit around the table decorating cookies for the local bake sale. For days we would roll, bake, mix and frost, eventually the smell of butter cream would permeate our skin, hair, and clothing. Our hands, stained with the many colors of Wilton, would scoop spoonfuls of icing into bags with decorator tips. The flower tip piping blue for Cookie Monster’s fur. Bright yellow for the sunflower petals with a large swirl of dark brown in the center with tiny black dots for the seeds. Our cookies were crafted with love and imagination.
I’ve carried cookie baking into my own family, my own special tradition. Son #1 doesn’t pick up a frosting bag but he does help me “taste test” all of my new recipes. And he is an excellent dough roller for cake pops.
Yet within tradition there is room for change. After 38 years of using the same cut-out cookie dough recipe, I have jumped ship to a new recipe. Who says I can’t break free of the rut? Thank you, Pinterest.
Without further ado, here’s my new favorite cookie cutter dough recipe from Bake at 350:
Perfect Every Time Cut-Out Cookies
- 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
- 2 sticks (salted) butter, cold & cut into chunks
- 1 egg 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
Preheat oven to 350. Using a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Mix the flour and salt together in a separate bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.
This dough does not require chilling. Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4″ to 3/8″ thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack. Frost when completely cooled. Yields approximately 30 cookies per batch.