Friday, September 26, 2008

Tale of two cookies

I'm back!! After a whirlwind tour of visiting G's family all over the state on NC, we're starting to get back in to the swing of every day life. It's been great just to be able to do all the normal everyday things again. I didn't realize how much I've missed the routine of every day, like making dinner and sitting on the couch with someone other than the dog. The conversation is better too!
I've also jumped right back into baking this week with a large order for sugar cookies decorated like maple leaves. I tried a couple of different sugar cookie recipes to see which one worked best. Back in December I had hosted a Drop in and Decorate cookie party. The idea of a drop in and decorate party is that you invite a group of friends and neighbors to come over and decorate sugar cookies for charity. Lydia of Nine Cooks came up with this unique and fun concept. For the party I used Lydia's cookie recipe and it was great for cut-out cookies. So I knew her recipe would work great for making a large amount of cut-out cookies, but I can't resist trying new recipes. I made a batch of Dori's Greenspan's sugar cookies as well. The two recipes are only slightly different. Dori's had less butter and more egg than the Lydia's recipe. I thought maybe the lesser amout of butter would help when I cut out the cookies.
How did they compare? Well first of all, both recipes taste really great. Dori's recipe makes a softer cookie that puffs up a bit more during baking. Lydia's recipe makes a crisper cookie that keeps it's shape when baked and really holds up well to decorating.
If you want a really nice soft sugar cookie, go with Dori's recipe. However, if you've got to make 18 dozen cookies cut out in the shape of a leaf and then iced, Lydia's recipe the one to use!
For Lydia's sugar cookie recipe go here

Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
Excerpted from Baking: From My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.

1. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated — because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.

2. Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you — I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you're going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

4. If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies — I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you've rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

5. If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between the cookies.

6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you'd like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

7. Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

The icing has to dry overnight so my dining room table has so many leaves on it, it looks like it needs to be raked!


Rosie said...

Welcome back!! Fabulous looking sugar cookies and love the maple leaf shape so pretty :)

Rosie x

Megan said...

I love sugar cookies and could go for about 5 of those right now. :)
Beautiful cookies.

dalynn said...

These look so tasty. I can't located the icing. Do you have an icing recipe?

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, what beautiful fall cookies! Very pretty!



Andrea said...

What perfect little cookies! They're the perfect harbinger of fall.

Camille said...

The party is a fun idea! I'm going to have to try this for my next Girls Night Out (GNO) event...even though it will be more of a Girls Night In!

Susan said...

cookies look great..nice touch for fall and a great dessert for the thanksgiving table..thanks for sharing

RecipeGirl said...

Welcome back... these are such cute fall cookies!

redmenace said...

Thank you for this recipe. This is just what I needed!

Sandie said...

Glad you are enjoying your time with the hubby. It makes me think of that old 70's song, "Reunited and it feels so good..."

And I'm really tickled to see that you hosted a Drop In & Decorate Event last December---yay for you! This is a great comparison between Lydia's and Dori's cookie recipes. Good information to know!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Thanks so much for telling your readers about Drop In and Decorate! We have our own web site for that now, with links to the cookie recipe and the royal icing. Your cookies are beautiful -- looks like you're all ready for your next Drop In party!

Half Baked said...

Thanks Rosie! It's nice to get things back to normal.
Thanks megan!
I just put 1/2 teas. meringue powder to 1 cup powdered sugar mix in 4-6 tsp water and whatever color you want. Decorate! then let dry for several hours.

thanks rosa!

thanks Andrea I love this season!

the drop in and decorate parties are a blast. you should definitly host one!

thanks susan!

recipe girl,
It's great to get back into the swing!

redmenace, I'm glad I could help you out with a recipe!

Thanks sandie! It's wonderful to be reunited!!!

Lydia, I hope I've inspired others to host a party too. They're a blast and it's fun doing something for others!

Cynthia said...

Welcome back. I'm definitely bookmarking this. Great gift idea.

Grace said...

well aren't you clever! these are super festive and undoubtedly tasty to boot. excellent work. :)

Anonymous said...

First, those cookies are making my mouth water!

And: I didn't realize how much I've missed the routine of every day, like making dinner and sitting on the couch with someone other than the dog. The conversation is better too!

Sophie said...

Your cookies came out so cute! Perfectly decorated. I really need to get caught up with my Fall baking :).