Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not the usual Betty Crocker

This was my first cookie decorating experience. It was messy. It was interesting.

Oh and it was really fun.

Sometimes I find it difficult to pick a recipe because I take a billion things into consideration. Maybe that is a slight exaggeration. But seriously, I look at factors such as:
  • -where I got the recipe (online or book) 
  • -availability of pictures = bonus!
  • -who wrote the recipe (credible chef or some creative individual...)
  • -title of the recipe (I am attracted to recipes that use words like 'Best')
  • -number of online reviews (more = better)
  • -number of stars received (higher = better... of course)
  • -complexity of directions (hate it when you have to heat things up on the stove    ...more pots to wash!)
  • -number of appliances needed (i hate it when it calls for a food processor because I don't have one)
  • -number of ingredients needed and if I even have all the ingredients...
  • -amount of time needed/ extra waiting steps (ie refrigerator/freezer time)

Lots of things to think about. Anyways, I was debating between two recipes (I'll put both at the end). Why was I debating? Well I've never made sugar cookies from scratch. Ah... yes I am hanging my head in shame right now.

My memories of sugar cookies involved the packaged Betty Crocker stuff. You know the one in the bag-like package with the flower cookie covered in rainbow sprinkles. HEY- don't knock it til you try it and when you do, you will find that they will turn out soft and chewy.

The recipe I decided to follow (recipe #1: Almond Vanilla Sugar Cookies) required less flour and time. I wasn't going to make 4 dozen cookies on my first attempt. In the end, the cookies were similar to butter cookies.
Is that normal for a sugar cookie? 
Were these cookies not really sugar cookies? 
Has Betty Crocker been feeding me false ideas
about what a sugar cookie should be like all these years?! 

Regardless, many people were fans of these cookies. Maybe I will test out the other recipe (recipe #2) on a later date or maybe I'll secretly always use Betty Crocker.

I also made royal icing to decorate the cookies.
First I dissolved the meringue powder with warm water.
Word on the street is that meringue powder is just pasteurized egg whites.

Then I beat it until it was frothy. Well I didn't actually beat it, the stand mixer did.

I added this white legal powder too. 
 ...also known as Icing Sugar.

I actually ran out of icing sugar,
so I put some regular granulated sugar in the blender and...

...BAM: Icing Sugar!
Do you know how much extra $$ I spent on packaged icing sugar?!
Well I don't, but I know its more than I needed to.

I had a friend join in on the decorating fun!

So many cookies!

These cookies were made for my friend.
Happy Birthday, Vanessa!

Made with love.
Packaged and pretty.

1.Recipe for the Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies Printer Friendly Version 
3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I've stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

recipe from bake at 350

2.Recipe for the Sugar Cookies
2  1/2 cups butter (at room temperature)
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 3 tsp vanilla)
5 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1.  Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed.  (Use the paddle attachment).  Mix until thoroughly incorporated – for about one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more.

Over mixing the butter and sugar in this step will cause too much air to be incorporated into the dough.  If you’d like a light and fluffy cookie, that’s ideal, however the dough will spread more during baking; not ideal if you’d like the cookie to hold its shape.

2.  Add eggs slowly and mix.  Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.

3.  Cut open your vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out.  Add to mixing bowl.  Alternatively, add liquid vanilla extract.  Stir briefly.

4.  Sift your dry ingredients together.  (Flour, baking powder and salt).

5.  Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl.  Place a large tea towel or two small tea towels between the edge of the bowl and the electric mixer so that the flour won’t escape.  Mix on low speed for 3o seconds.  Remove the tea towels and observe the dough mixing; when it clumps around the paddle attachment it’s ready.  It’s also important at this stage not to over mix the dough (the glutens in the flour develop and the dough can become tough).

6.  Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper.  Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

7.  Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes.  Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Re-roll scraps and repeat.

8.  Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again.  They will then hold their shape better when baked.

9.  Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C.

10.  Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown.  The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.

11.  Let cookies cool to room temperature and decorate!

Recipe from Sweetopia


  1. Congrats on your first batch! They look great!

  2. Hi Love! Your first batch looks beautiful! I'm glad that I found your blog this morning...great posts and I'm sure your friend felt lucky to have someone as sweet as you in her life

  3. these look awesome joyce... i love the pics... I'm always too lazy to take pics when I'm baking :(


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