Friday, December 23, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Christmas Cookies

I believe I've mentioned how much I love my sugar cookie recipe.  I found the original recipe on Iambaker several months ago and after a few tweaks I was left with a cookie recipe that consistently gets rave reviews and is a cinch to make.  So far I've experimented with the originally suggest almond extract and my switch to lemon extract flavoring.  This was my go-to for a while.  Until one day.

I was making cookies for Christmas and I just couldn't wrap my head around using lemon extract.  I didn't want the almond extract as I wasn't completely in love with that flavor.  I also couldn't shake the idea of a yummy snickerdoodle.  But snickerdoodles aren't roll/cut cookies.  They spread and have a sugary coating that keeps them from being iced.  Still, I couldn't be dissuaded.  So I decided, what the hell, I'd try it.  I love my original recipe, so I decided to use that as a jumping off point.  And I must say - without any modesty - that I may have even topped myself in the deliciousness factor.  And after a couple of missteps with decorating, I think they turned out pretty cutely too.

I started by creaming 3 sticks of SALTED butter with 2 cups of sugar.

Once the butter and the sugar are good and creamy, add in two egg yolks

Mix until they are blended in and then add in two whole eggs.

Finally, add in a tablespoon of vanilla extract.

While the wet ingredients are being creamed together, it is time to mix the dry ingredients.  To four cups of flour, add a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Little tip from Martha - you can use a whisk to stir this all together instead of sifting it.  Works for me!

Very slowly add a cup at a time of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and eggs.  Only mix it enough each time to barely incorporate the flour mixture into the butter.  You don't want to over mix at this stage or you could end up with tough cookies.

When I finished with the last batch of flour mixture, turn all the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap.

Wrap the dough into a cylinder and store in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  I always roll my cookies on a piece of parchment paper so that clean up is nice and easy.  I also line my baking sheets with parchment paper.  Basically - when there is a sale on parchment paper, I stock up!

In addition to the 3 different size circles, I also cut out some Christmas trees.  Make sure to put the cookies in the freezer for 15 - 30 minutes before baking.

Bake for 10 -12 minutes at 350.  If your oven runs a little cool (like mine does) you can push the temperature up to 375.  Just start checking the cookies at 10 minutes.  The reason for this is you don't want the oven temp to be too low or your cookies could spread into blobs.

The cookie on the left is baked at 350, cookie on the right at 375.  The difference in spreading is slight but important

Once all the cookies are cooled, it is time to decorate. I decided on three different decorations for my trees and circles:

When I made the first batch of these cookies a few weeks ago as a tester, Hubby picked up one of the pieces of white chocolate I had just unmolded for another project and put it ion top of the still warm cookie.  It melted.  And once it solidified again, this time coating the entire cookie, it was tremendous.  Because of this, I decided I wanted to coat the trees in green white chocolate.

Full disclosure - this was a mess.  I originally put the melted chocolate into a piping bag to make layered levels of needles on the tree.  About half way through, I realized it wasn't going to work so I just started spreading the chocolate.  But some of it was already dry.  So they were a lumpy mess.

They still tasted amazing, but I was hesitant to put them out on a buffet table looking like my 2 year old nephew had run his hands through them.  What was I going to do? Well, if watching Debbie Decorates Dallas has taught me one thing, it is that anything will look pretty if covered in enough glue and sparkles, so I reached for the baking equivalent - royal icing and sparkly sanding sugar.

I made "garlands" out of royal icing

Dunked the cookie in the sugar

And voila! A decent looking and delicious cinnamon sugar Christmas tree covered in white chocolate.

Next up were the large and medium circles.  I had it in my mind that I wanted to make snow flakes.  And again, I wanted to use white chocolate.  And again, it was a mess.  Note to self: self, white chocolate is not an easy swap for royal icing, it is more for a drizzle.

To hide the squiggly lines and uneven edges, I once again turned to my glue and sparkles.

I put a dot of royal icing at each point of the snow flake.

And after putting the cookie face down into a plate of sanding sugar, you couldn't even see all the uneven lines, all you could see was sparkle.

Finally, after reading Glorious Treats' blog I wanted to do some cute little snowballs out of the smallest size circle cookie.

I started out by outlining and filling the cookies with royal icing.

Next, I put four cookies at a time face down into some sanding sugar and give them a light press to really set the sugar.

Finally, place them on a drying rack overnight to dry. The pictures don't really do these little cuties justice.  They are so sparkly and the texture is so nice.

Usually when I make cookies, they are all the same.  Which is nice.  But sometimes, I like to see a little variation on a platter and these were perfect for my Christmas party.  I love the way the platter looks with the green of the trees, the lightness of the snowflakes and the little pops of sparkly snowballs.  And they are all tied together with the use of the sanding sugar so they still look cohesive.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful Christmas and I'll be back and posting more next week.

Shopping List for Cinnamon Sugar Cookies - makes about 50 cookies, depending on size. 

  • 3 Sticks SALTED Butter
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Royal Icing and/or Candy Melts and/or Sanding Sugar For Decorating

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