Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Today was Abbie's playgroup's Halloween Party at our house. What fun! The kiddies were all dressed in costumes and there was plenty of sugar to go around. The moms all brought a little something to make goody-bags for the kids, and my offering, as usual, was a monogrammed cookie for each child. I love decorating sugar cookies, and the holidays give me a perfect opportunity. Along with sugar eating and socializing, we had pumpkin decorating and cookie decorating. I made a bunch of sugar cookies in Halloween shapes, some royal icing, and put together some bowls of sprinkles. It took 1 1/2 hours to clean my house after the party, but it was worth it! They had a great time- what kid doesn't like royal icing? I did have to stop Abbie from putting the squeeze bottle directly up to her lips and sucking the icing out. She does decorate a mean cookie, though.

After testing many recipes over the years, I have found that Martha Stewart's Sugar Cookie recipe works without fail every time. Here is her recipe, with my small changes mixed in.

Sugar Cookies
4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (good vanilla)
royal icing (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.
With mixer4 on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, and beat thoroughly until combined. Divide dough in half, and shape into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, atleast 1 hour. Place cookie sheets lined with Silpat baking mats or parchment in refrigerator as well.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator to temper slightly.
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, then place cookies on chilled baking sheets. Place baking sheets with cookies back into the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to oven, and bake until edges are starting to brown, 15-18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. Leave cookies on sheets 2-3 minutes after taking them out of the oven. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate as desired with royal icing.

Royal Icing

1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup water
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon extract (optional)

In a small bowl, beat together meringue powder and water until soft peaks form. Stir in sugar until fully incorporated. Add vanilla. Add water as needed to adjust consistency.

I put leftover dough in the freezer before I roll it out again. Try not to roll the dough out too many times, it makes the dough tough.
I bake each cookie sheet separately in my oven; 7 minutes, rotate, then 8 minutes.


Tasha said...

Have you ever thought about opening a bakery? Your cookies are super cute and they look SO professional.

Meme said...

Thank you, Tasha. You are my biggest fan, (aside from my mother, who says the same thing). Alas, I have a wee one to care for, and this makes opening a shop not a possibility. But thank you for your nice comments. It makes me feel good about all this.