Monday, April 23, 2012

Precious Memories and Sugar Cookies

Yes, I know that Easter has come and gone, but the precious memories made baking these cookies with our two oldest grandsons will last a lifetime.  Since our first born daughter and her family moved to Nashville right before Christmas, our two oldest grandsons (8 and 5) spend Friday night with us whenever they can and we always have something fun planned whether it is a craft, or baking, or making pancakes for breakfast (their favorite).

Dan and I volunteer at Sophia's Heart, which is a transitional housing shelter for families who have lost their homes through unfortunate circumstances.  There are young children and adults living there.  This year, I wanted to make Easter baskets for the children and cookies for the adults, just so they would know that someone was thinking of them.  I asked the boys if they wanted to help bake cookies and told them who they were for and they were all for it!

They were so much help to me.  I made the dough and refrigerated it overnight.  They came the next day and rolled and cut all the cookies for me and placed them on the baking pans.  I put them in the oven and removed them since the oven is hot.  After the cookies cooled, I iced and packaged all of them for delivery.  The boys and I had a blast!  They learn cooking skills as part of their school curriculum and they were amazing help!  It also teaches about giving back to the world around us and give back they did.

                                                 Making cookies is hard work!
         Rolling dough takes concentration - notice there is flour everywhere - lol

This sugar cookie recipe has been in my "hand written" cook book since the first year we were married.  I don't even know where I got it, most likely from a magazine.  These are rolled sugar cookies and are sooooo good.  Our second born daughter loves sugar cookies so I have been making them for years and years.

I iced them with royal icing and then piped on the embellishments with butter cream icing.  They take a little time, but look so pretty and went so much faster with 4 extra helping hands.

Here is what you need for the cookie dough:

3/4 cup shortening (I use butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2.5 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir in sifted dry ingreients.  Chill at least 1 hour.

Roll dough out about 1/8 inch thick (I like mine just a tad thicker).  Cut into desired shapes.  Decorate with colored sugar before baking if you are decorating the cookies that way.  Otherwise, decorate after baking and cooling.

Use an UNGREASED baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees 6-8 minutes or until delicately brown.  Depending on the size cutters used, you will get approximately 4 dozen cookies.  I double this recipe when baking.

Royal Icing:

2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 TBSP meringue powder (I use Wilton's - don't like using raw egg whites)
3 TBSP water
1 tsp corn syrup

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with mixer.  I then separated into 4 small containers and tinted the color I wanted.

Flood the tops of the cookies with the royal icing using the back of a spoon to spread icing and let dry.

Buttercream Icing:

1 stick butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
milk added 1 tbsp at a time until you have consistency you want - for these cookies, make it fairly stiff

Mix softened butter until light and fluffy, add confectioner's sugar one cup at a time.  Will be rather crumbly.  Add 1 TBSP milk and mix, continue a little at a time until you have consistency wanted.

Separate icing into smaller containers and tint with food coloring, making colors you want to use.  I  then use gallon sized storage bags and clip the corner at an angle (make a tiny clip), place a decorating tip in a different design in each clipped corner.  Fill the bag with icing and pipe onto the cookies as you desire.

Here are some of the finished cookies on paper plates ready to be packaged.
This is how I packaged them,  I just wrapped them in clear cellophane paper and tied with a ribbon.
The cookies were a BIG hit at Sophia's Heart.  Several of the residents have asked when I will make more, so that is a good sign they were enjoyed which is the most important part.

Try this recipe and use any shape cutters you like for any occasion.  The recipe is easy and delicious - fabulous with coffee.  Of course, I kept some for us and for the grandsons to enjoy which they did!  Our two year old grandson likes to lick the icing off first, and then eat the cookie!   He's a little cookie monster.

Making these memories with our grandsons is one of the most precious and wonderful times of my life and I hope there will be many many more.  Make some memories, you won't be sorry you did.

Everyday Donna

Things to remember:

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.  Barbara Jourdan

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