Christmas Roll Sugar Cookies

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Yesterday was my five year high school reunion, which is weird for me to think about. I got to see people that I actually haven’t seen since graduation, as well as others that I’ve kept in better touch with, and it was awesome to be able to hear about what everyone was up to. A lot has changed since high school (I definitely wasn’t as into baking back then), but in a lot of ways it was nice that some things stayed the same.

Also, I found out that some people have been reading my blog (Hi Michelle and Liz!). So in case you are looking for a last minute Christmas cookie that’s easy and cool looking, this week I’m posting my Christmas Roll Sugar Cookies. It’s the same base as my very first post, but instead of rolling and cutting shapes, you make a roll for slice and bake style cookies.

So first, combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

 

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Then, in a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until smooth using a hand mixer.

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Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.

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Add the flour mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Separate the dough into 3 equal parts.

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Add red food coloring to one portion and green to a second. I used the Wilson gel food coloring so it wouldn’t mess with the consistency of the dough, but make sure you use a lot if you don’t want preppy pink and green cookies.

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Chill the dough, covered, in the refrigerator for about an hour to make it easier to roll. Then, roll each portion out into a rectangle of about the same size on pieces of wax paper.

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Stack the dough rectangles, one on top of the other, and trim the edges to make sure they line up. Obviously, color order is up to you.

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Starting on the long side, roll the dough into a log. Wrap the log in the wax paper and freeze for a couple of hours.

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Once the dough is frozen, it will be way easier to slice. Slice into cookies, rotating the log a quarter turn after each cut to prevent one side from flattening.

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Roll the dough in colored sprinkles and place two inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden.

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Remove from cookie sheet and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. They kept well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week without getting stale, so they make a good addition to cookie tins!

Enjoy!

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Christmas Roll Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red and green food coloring
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream together the shortening and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat until fully incorporated.
  5. Separate dough into 3 separate parts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
  6. Roll each portion into a rectangle on a separate sheet of wax paper. Stack the rectangles and trim edges to make even.
  7. Starting on a long edge, roll the dough into a log. Wrap in wax paper and freeze for at least 2 hours.
  8. Unwrap and slice dough into cookies, rotating the log a quarter turn between slices to prevent flattening.
  9. Roll cookies in sprinkles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Snickerdoodles

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Ahh, November as a teacher in New Jersey. After the mayhem that is the start of the school year, this month feels like a breeze. This past weekend was a long weekend for Teacher’s Convention, which I took advantage of to journey down south to DC and Baltimore to visit some friends from college. It was a short trip, but walking around inner harbor in Baltimore made me very nostalgic for a road trip my family had taken a long time ago.

In my nostalgia, I texted my mom for her snickerdoodle recipe, sure I remembered her making them when I was little. She responded that she didn’t have one, but I think she just didn’t want to dig through boxes to find it. So instead I found one in a cookbook I’ve been dying to use: Milk & Cookies. I’ve had this book for awhile, but because the recipes were all by weight, I hadn’t yet had a chance to try it. With my nifty kitchen scale, though, I was willing to give it a shot.

In the recipe, I’ll include both the weights and traditional measurements, just in case you haven’t jumped on the kitchen scale bandwagon yet, but trust me when I say that baking by weight is infinitely easier.

First, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Look how easy it is to measure 11 1/4 ounces!

 

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Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and shortening, starting on low speed and increasing to medium to beat for 3 minutes. It will be light and creamy when you’re ready to move on.

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Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar slowly while continuously beating for an additional two minutes.

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Add the eggs, one at a time, and reduce the speed to low, beating to incorporate after each addition.

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Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.

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Add the flour mixture on low speed in two additions, beating until just mixed together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

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Recipes that involve overnight components catch me by surprise every time. I had told my doorman that I would bring him cookies last night when I started making these. Then I got to the overnight step and realized he would not be getting cookies that evening. Fortunately, he was there this morning when I finally baked them, and determined that they were “off the chain”, which he also clarified meant they were delicious. Brian is my biggest fan.

Anyways, after the dough is sufficiently chilled, mix the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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Place the balls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until lightly brown. When you touch the top of the cookie, the indent should remain.

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Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. These cookies are meant to be chewy, so to prevent them from getting too crisp, the airtight container is crucial.

Enjoy!

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Snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 ounces) sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  •  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and shortening using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, starting at low speed, and increasing to medium for about 3 minutes or until light and creamy.
  3. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and continue beating for 2 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition.
  5. Beat in vanilla extract until smooth.
  6. Add flour mixture in two additions, beating on low speed until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  7. Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until just golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Butter Cookies

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Last Christmas recipe, I promise.  And these also aren’t really a Christmas-exclusive recipe, so I don’t feel bad about it.  Imagine them in shapes other than Christmas trees if it bothers you.

This is also another one of those you-kind-of-need-a-special-tool-to-make-me recipe, which is fine for me because I have that tool.  And I highly recommend you get one because of it’s unbelievable convenience.  That tool is a cookie press, and my mom got it for me for Christmas this year.  It let’s you make all of those super cute shape cookies you probably thought only mass-cookie-producing factories could make.  But alas, you can do it at home!  With this:

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Now, mine came with 12 different discs I could use to make different shapes.  I chose to make trees, wreaths, and snowflakes for Christmas (and teddy bears because my boyfriend insisted).  I also have the option to make hearts, buttercups, shells, sunflowers, daisies, fleur de lis, leaves, and butterflies.  So you can assume this is not the last you see of my cookie press.  For my first go with it, however, I had to go with butter cookies.  Because, really, I appreciate a cookie that doesn’t try to be something its not.  It knows that people like it for its butter, so it owns it.

Also, realistically, if you don’t have a cookie press, don’t worry.  You could roll out this dough and use a cookie cutter, too.  Cookie dough is pretty forgiving with how you want to use it.

First up, cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

 

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If you have a handy assistant around, you can get them to do it while you take awesome action shots.  Thanks Andy!

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Next, add the vanilla and egg and continue to beat it with the hand mixer.  The recipe says to make sure the egg is at room temperature – this is to ensure that the dough is easy to handle when you put it in the press.

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Add the flour little by little, beating until its well combined.

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Now comes the fun part.  Since I had never used a cookie press before, I did make a couple mistakes the first time through, but I eventually found my groove.  In case you’re wondering, this is what a disc looks like to make a wreath:

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I have no idea who figured out that would work, but I am very impressed with them.  On the first try, I filled the press all the way up with cookie dough.

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This is not something you want to do.  The press will refuse to press cookies until you remove some of the dough.  In later attempts I realized it’s probably better to go with about half-full (or half-empty if you’re a pessimist) to get the smoothest working pump.  Then you just put the handle on, put the press right on the cookie sheet, push down on the handle, and pull away.  In less than a minute, you’ve got a cookie sheet full of wreaths!

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From a purely time-saving point of view, these are probably the most impressive looking cookies you can make in under an hour.  Sprinkle them with some sanding sugar, cook them for 8 to 10 minutes at 400°F, and you’re good to go.

Also, make sure to rotate the pan about halfway through the baking time.  This will make sure all the cookies get equal heat, so you don’t have 12 burnt cookies and 12 doughy cookies.  It helps, I swear.

Let them cool for a minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Fill up the press and repeat!

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The other awesome part about butter cookies (other than their simplicity – only 5 ingredients!) is that they go with anything.  Everyone likes them, they’re small (which I generally believe means they don’t have calories), and when you aren’t in the mood to make anything super fancy, the cookie press makes them look fancy enough on their own.

Enjoy!

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Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and egg, continuing to beat until smooth.
  3. Add flour little by little, beating until well combined.
  4. Insert desired disc in cookie press, fill tube half full of dough, and press dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 400°F, rotating the baking sheet after 5 minutes.  Remove when cookies are golden brown around edges.
  6. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.