Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Cookies

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Holiday Cookies 

Spritz, Red Velvet Swirls, Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
This year, I made triple the amount of cookies from last Christmas. I have no idea why but it happened. I wanted to try some new recipes other than sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies so I also made red velvet swirls, coconut chocolate chip cookies and holiday spritz cookies. I wish I started a day earlier since this took so much time in my small kitchen. I do not have a lot of counter space so baking of this magnitude was quite a challenge. I had to clear both of my counter tops in order to have enough space to decorate the cookies. It was back breaking at times but a lot of fun though. It is great giving away cookies to your loved ones so if you can you should try baking some for your friends and family. They will be very glad you did and they are very tasty too.

December 22nd:
I have a Cuisinart Electric Cookie Press and made Holiday Spritz Cookies for the first time. I used the recipe in Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking Magazine, 2011, pgs. 26-27. These spritz cookies were delicious. I just need to get a hang of the cookie press but I did OK for my first try. Next year, I will tint the dough and make them in multiple colors and use more designs.

Holiday Spritz Cookies
My original plan was to make Red Velvet Pinwheel Cookies but the temperature outside was so hot (in NYC this time of year-what?) so I had problems working with the dough. To make the best of out my situation, I ended up making two variations of Red Velvet Swirls just playing with the dough as best as I could. The recipe for red velvet pinwheel cookies is from Pillsbury Best Holiday Desserts Magazine #72, pgs. 59-60. If like me you have never made pinwheel cookies, Google "a how to" video for tips. These cookies are very chewy and soft with a cake like texture and real yummy.

Red Velvet Swirls
My favorite cookie of all the ones I baked were these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies. I am just so in love with coconut so maybe that is the reason why. The recipe I used is from Taste of Home Cookies Cookbook, pg. 55. These cookies are delectable.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
December 23rd:
I am not an artist so I worked slow and did my best to make the Sugar Cookies pretty. I doubled the Sugar Cookies recipe from the batch I made the week prior. You can find the recipe here: I used small and large snowflakes, two different Christmas trees, star, snowman, heart and round cutouts.

Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Large Snowflake Sugar Cookies
I used Wilton and Betty Crocker Decorating Icing in several colors, but was unable to find any in white and was desperate so I made some. Next year, I will make sure I stock up on these much earlier or plan my ingredients ahead of time and make my own icing.

Here is the Decorating Icing recipe:

1 Egg White

3 ½ Cups Confectioners Sugar

1 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract

3 Tablespoons Water

Christmas Trees Sugar Cookies

Stars, Christmas Trees, Snowflakes Sugar Cookies
Beat Egg White in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed for several minutes until foamy.

Gradually add Confectioners Sugar, Almond Extract and Water. Continue beating until smooth and glossy.

Decorate cookies using icing in pastry bag. Allow icing to dry before stacking them together or putting them in cookie gift tins or bags.
Snowmen Sugar Cookies

Lots of Sugar Cookies
For the Gingerbread Boys & Girls, I used Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix.

Gingerbread Boys & Girls
Here is the Gingerbread recipe:
1 Stick Butter

1 Extra Large Egg

1 Tablespoon Water

Stir Gingerbread Mix, Softened Butter, Egg and Water in a large bowl until a soft dough forms.

Form dough into a large ball, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for ½ hour to 1 hour.

More Gingerbreads
Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin to prevent dough from sticking. Use your Gingerbread cutters and continue to flour surface and rolling pin as needed. I used a silicon mat to roll the dough and do the cutouts and it worked great. If dough starts sticking, place in refrigerator for ½ hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the Gingerbread cutouts 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-11 minutes.

Cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to cooling racks. Do not wait longer or they make stick to the cookie sheets. I know, I broke about 4 of them.

Cool completely for about 1 hour before decorating.

Hearts Sugar Cookies
Some tips from personal experience:
Before starting a recipe, be sure to have all your ingredients measured ahead of time. It is not fun running to the supermarket in the wee hours of the night.

Gels and cake/cupcake Frosting does not work well with Sugar Cookies. They do not harden up like Decorating Icing. If you have to stack or package cookies, do not use Gels or Frosting.

To make sure decorating sugars, sprinkles, etc. stick to your Spritz Cookies use a spray bottle filled with water, and gently spray and add your decorations.

To decorate Sugar Cookies, use artist brushes to flood the cookies and toothpicks to help you with decorations. I got 24 artist brushes for .99 cents at my local dollar store.

To soften butter, place in the microwave for 5-15 seconds. Start with 5 seconds then check it and continue to microwave 5 seconds at a time until butter is soft. Allow to cool before adding to recipe.

When you fill a pastry bag or clear storage bag, keep a clip on the tip so the icing does not run out and make a mess all over the darn place.

Ornament Sugar Cookies
When you cut out the tip of the pastry bag be sure to make it small otherwise decorating will be a pain in the ass.

When working with dough, always refrigerate for ½ hour to an 1 hour to make it easy to do cutouts.

Decorating Icing dries up quickly so add your decorations ASAP and then let the cookies dry completely before stacking or packing them in gift tins. My Gingerbreads dried so fast I was unable to add any decorations. Do one at a time.

Place parchment paper or paper towels under cooling racks so they catch your decorating mess and do not stain your counter tops or table.

Try to have many cookie sheets because you have to let them cool completely before putting them back in the oven with more cookies.

Lastly, do not eat all the cookies that break at once. Place them in a cookie jar. There is no need to give yourself a tummy ache and be in a sugar coma when you have so much to do.


-Sophia/Two Frys

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