Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Last weekend, some friends came over and we all decorated sugar cookies in preparation for Halloween. The recipe I used is called 'Holiday Cookies' from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine flour, salt and sugar first. The superfine sugar can be made by placing regular sugar in the blender or food processor. Then, using an electric mixer, add the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract. Mix until the dough looks crumbly and slightly wet. Next mix it together with your hands to create one solid piece of dough. Separate the dough into two pieces and create two flat circles which are then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 20 to 30 minutes. 

After refrigeration, roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper, about 1/8-1/4 in thick. Work with only one flat circle of dough at a time. Once the dough has been rolled out, place it on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for another 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut and separate. Now cut the cookies into shapes and place them on a cookie sheet ready for baking. 

Preheat the oven to 375. Cook the cookies for about 10 minutes. If they are closer to the 1/8 in. or smaller thickness then they will be done closer to 7 minutes.  Let cool for 30 to 60 minutes.

Mixing the butter into the flour and sugar reduces air bubbles, but they still my occur. To combat them I check the cookies at 5 minutes, while baking, and if there are any bubbles starting to form I gently flatten them with a spoon. The superfine sugar improves the texture.

For the icing combine:
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners'/ powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • food coloring: black, red, yellow
A fork will work fine to mix the icing together. Separate your icing into several different containers and then add food coloring. You may need to make more than one batch of icing. Also, try and make the icing as thin as possible, it will dry faster. To cover the cookies with icing use a butter knife and some chopsticks for small details. Candies can also be stuck to the cookies when applied while the frosting is still wet. I placed shredded coconut on my ghost. 

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