Saturday, December 13, 2014

ACCM - Christmas Cookies

I purchased this copy of The New World Encyclopedia
of Cooking
on Ebay for about $20.00. I love everything,
but...the smell (yuck mildew)!
I've blogged Christmas recipes in previous years. My favorite cocoa refrigerator cookies, "Aunt" Hazel's peanut butter fudge, and my mom's, aunt's and uncle's favorite...sand tarts.

This year I'd like to share my mom's sugar cookie recipe. My mom made the BEST sugar cookies. They had orange zest in them and were just so yummy. I haven't made them in quite a few years. Since we started going to Wisconsin for Christmas around 2009 there was no need. You see my sisters and mother-in-law would get pre-cut sugar cookies as a tradition and the aunts would gather around and color some icing purchased from Festival Foods. We'd ice the cookies and pass them to the kids to put sugar crystals and sprinkles on top. The result was a lot of fun for the kids and a little nudge closer to diabetes for the adults. "Sugar rush" is an understatement!

There were usually lots of cookies to take home after the holidays so I stopped making my mom's sugar cookies because of this. Now most of my nephews and nieces are grown up. Fewer and fewer want to decorate cookies. It won't be long before I start making these again to keep sugar cookies around for my kids. Sugar cut-out cookies are just a must for the holidays!

I've had some trouble with this recipe in the past. I won't bend the truth here. My cookies just weren't coming out as yummy as mom's. It bothered me. I'm a pretty good baker. The cookies were tough. I'm not talking tough to make, I mean tough as in how they tasted after I made them. Frankly, they were kicking my butt. I couldn't figure it out. The first couple batches were fine. Then it came to me. I was re-rolling the dough too many times.  Yeah...don't do that. Take the scraps and re-roll once. Try to maximize your cut-outs so you don't have a lot of scraps left. Heck...give the scraps to the kids (or eat them yourself...cookie dough...YUM!). Just don't do more than two rolls from the same dough. No bueno!

Now I must go on to clarify that while I say these are my "mom's" sugar cookies she actually got them from The New World Encyclopedia of Cooking. They're on page 673. There are several variations to this recipe listed below the base sugar cookie recipe and one of them is "Lemon Sugar Cookies." My mom didn't add lemon zest to the batter, she used orange zest.

Growing up I remember putting those candy silver balls, red hots, colored sprinkles an sugar crystals on them. We were never allowed to put too much on and you really wouldn't want to cover up the flavor of these!

My Mom's (ahem...TNWEOC's) Sugar Cookies

2/3 c butter
1 c sugar
2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 orange, zested

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and orange zest. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture.

Divide dough and place on a sheet of waxed paper. Place another sheet over the dough a press to about 1/2 to 1-inch thickness. Do this with the other half of the dough and refrigerate overnight or until firm.

Break off a piece of the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Make sure to maximize your cutouts to reduce scraps and re-rolling! Bake in a 375 degree (F) oven for 10 minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet until the bottoms are golden.

Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely.

Remember that after you break a piece of dough off to roll that you must put the rest of it back in the refrigerator until you're ready to use more dough. You want it to stay cold!

Also if you're decorating without icing and just sprinkles you want to decorate before you bake them.