Sunday, December 6, 2009

Favorite Holiday recipe

Brown Eyed Baker, whose blog I follow diligently (definitely check it out, if you haven't already) is having a fantastic giveaway for the holidays. The prize is a Kitchen Aid mixer which would be a great gift for my Mom. She asks that we blog about our favorite holiday recipe- now that's not too hard is it? Well, actually, the only thing hard about it is deciding which recipe to choose. One favorite? Now that's a tough one for me, but I do believe that my favorite thing to do at the holidays is decorate cookies, so that's the recipe I'll go with. I've posted this recipe before, but I will post it here again with pictures of the cookies I just finished last night. It's simple, straight-forward and is a great activity to do with  kids. I make these cookies for little gifts for Hanukah and they are always a big hit.

I've tried umpteen roll out cookie recipes, and finally decided on the one that works best for me. This one is from the book Cookie Craft by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer.

I have added the measures in weight as well since I bake by weight , instead of volume.
Rolled Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour (420 g)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (200 g)
1 cup sugar (200 g)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla or 1 tsp. vanilla plus zest of 1 lemon ( I have also tried orange zest and other extracts for a variety of flavors)

1. Whisk the flour and salt in a bowl and put aside.
2. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla ( or any extract you are using) and the zest , if you are using and mix until well blended.
3. On low speed, add the flour mixture until the two are blended, but do not overwork the dough.
4. Divide the dough into 2-3 sections . At this point I like to roll each piece out between two sheets of parchment paper and then chill. It saves a step and makes life easier.
5. Preheat oven to 350 F ( 180C).
6. Use cookie cutters to make the desired shapes and bake in middle rack 12-16 minutes or just until the edges start becoming a golden color.
7. Cool the cookies on a rack before icing or decorating.
I use both royal icing and fondant for my decorations- it just depends on my mood and what effect I want on the cookies. On these cookies I used a combination of both.

Antonia74 Royal Icing ( the best recipe for royal icing I have found)

•6 oz (3/4 cup) of warm water
5 Tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 kilogram (2.25 lbs.) powdered icing sugar


1. In mixer bowl, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder. Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds.
2.Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.
3.Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
4.Using the paddle attachment on the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
5.Cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying.
6.Tint with food colourings or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency.

Happy Holidays to all!!