As much as I enjoy participating in the various food-blog events, sometimes I just want to bake something for myself. Something I choose. With no deadline or requirements.
So it was that I found a recipe in one of my 'audition' cookbooks that I wanted to try.
You could say that I've been searching for a memory. My grandmother made the best sugar cookies, rolled, cut, and baked; frosted with pale green icing, and decorated with silver dragees. I never got the recipe, and I've been baking sugar cookies for years, hoping to find the one that captures that certain flavor and texture. I'll know it when I taste it.
A few years back, I had a frosted sugar cookie from a local bakery. From the first bite, I knew these were my grandmother's cookies, but how do you ask a bakery for their cookie recipe? Their cookies are shaped like cows, glazed white with black markings. The Best Cookies.
The cookbook I was auditioning was The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. I had made the Beer Bread, which was terrific, then came upon a recipe for glazed sugar cookies, Pretty-in-Pink Shortbread Pigs. Not cows, but pigs. I wondered whether these cookies would be like my grandmother's, so I tried out the recipe.
Pretty darn close, but some small thing is still missing. Even so, I bought the book based on these cookies, although having that beer bread recipe doesn't hurt either.
I don't have a cow cookie cutter, or a pig cookie cutter, so I used another species.
My neighbor exclaimed, "Oh, you made kangaroos!"
What do you think these are?
(Quarter recipe, adapted from The Pastry Queen)
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3/8 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/8 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Beat butter and sugar together in mixing bowl, on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture, stirring on low speed. Stop beating as soon as the flour mixture is completely incorporated.
Form the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll the chilled dough to a 1/4" thickness. Cut out cookies and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Combine scraps and reroll one more time.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just brown around the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then remove from sheet and cool completely on racks.
Icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and flavoring. Add food coloring. Dip the cookies, top side down into the icing, covering the whole cookie. Set on rack to let icing harden.
**The mystery animal is a Siberian husky. I bought the cookie cutter when I owned 2 of those crazy dogs. Now I own a ditzy German shepherd. Some day, I'll have a husky again.