Thursday, February 14, 2013

Soft and Tender Frosted Sugar Cookies

When I was growing up, it was a tradition to have rolled and cut out sugar cookies (that were frosted with homemade buttercream frosting) at Christmas and Valentine's day. I looked so forward to those things. My Grandma made them. My Aunt made them. My Mom made them. Oh man! They are like a kiss from Heaven! (Or some other flowery description.) Anyway, childhood flew by and I got married and suddenly I had the opportunity to supply myself and my new husband with our own sugar cookies. Awesome!! Ok, so, at first, though, not so awesome. I failed several times. It drove me crazy! Turns out there is a special secret that goes into them. Turns out it was a simple thing. You have to treat the dough with tender loving care. I mean, literally put love into them. Yes, that is the trick. Think happy thoughts and don't roll the dough too much. It toughens it. Just like people, they need to be treated kindly and sprinkled with extra sweetness. See, there ya go. These cookies hold the secret to a sweet life.

Soft and Tender Sugar Cookies (Jen's family recipe)
makes about 3 dozen

1 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups flour (plus some extra for dusting)

Cream the sugar and shortening together, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Add the water and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the salt, baking powder, and flour, slowly stir to combine. Continue to beat gently until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Place in the refrigerator and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into thirds. Lightly flour your rolling surface and roll dough with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch even thickness. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut your shapes out of the rolled dough. (Save your dough scraps and add them to your next 1/3 of the dough.) Place on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to sit on the pan for 1-2 minutes then remove cookies from sheet to cool on a cooling rack. When completely cooled, frost with your choice of buttercream frosting and decorate to your choosing.

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week. These cookies are better the next day. I kid you not. They absorb moisture and become even more like Heaven. Trust me. Save a couple for the next day. You will thank me...

Here is the buttercream recipe that I use. Pretty standard, I think.

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar (1 lb box)
6 tablespoons milk

In a mixer bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Combine in mixer. Drizzle in the milk while stirring, adding a little at a time until the frosting is at the desired consistency. Frost your cookies and eat them. The end.

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