Friday, November 14, 2008

Sugar Cookies, Martha Style!

Blame it on my Evergreen and Cinnamon Yankee candles, but this blogger has caught the holiday spirit like you would not believe! There's something about my home smelling of Christmas trees and cinnamon that makes me want to rip out the holiday decorations from the attic, hang some lights outside and get some yummy sugar cookies baking in the oven! But then immediately I'm struck with the revelation that I have yet to find the perfect sugar cookie recipe to use for my Christmas cookies! So I turned to our trusty friend--the Internet--and found a recipe for Martha Stewart's sugar cookies. I figured what better time to give this recipe a try than as a lazy afternoon bake-fest with my daughter!

I've posted the recipe below, including pictures of my baking experience. I will admit that this dough wasn't super-easy to work with. The cookies ended up spreading a lot during baking, which left me with big ol' blobs instead of cute little leaves and turkeys.

Martha's Sugar Cookies

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk (what the huh?? brandy?? really?! I went w/ the milk instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies, optional

DIRECTIONS
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.


  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar.


  3. Add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated.


  4. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk for us non-boozehounds), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.


  5. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

  7. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. At least, that's what Martha's recipe says. I choose to roll my sugar cookie dough on a surface dusted with confectioners sugar. It tends to make the cookies less hard/dry.


  8. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. I have to admit here that I didn't have any parchment paper, and I wasn't sure waxed paper was the same... So I used a regular cookie sheet but didn't think to lightly grease it first. The lesson here is to use some Pam if you don't have any parchment paper!


  9. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool. (Note the excessive amount of spreading during baking. Not sure how to avoid this.)


  10. Decorate with Royal Icing, optional. To make this simple icing recipe, just mix 1 pound of confectioners sugar with 2 Tbsp. meringue powder (or 2 egg whites), then add about 1/2 cup of water.



Makes 2 dozen
Bottom line? These cookies were pretty tasty. Eating the dough was my favorite part! But ultimately working with the dough was not so easy. And the fact that the cookies puffed up so much during baking, quite frustrating! I think I'll continue to look for the perfect sugar cookie recipe. LO and I have a lot more baking to do during the holidays!