Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Cookies!!!!

I was invited to my first ever holiday cookie swap. Now remember, I'm just now starting to get into this whole baking thing, so this was no easy task for me. I borrowed a friend's Kitchen Aide mixer (man I love that thing) and decided I wanted to go for the win and make swirly christmas cookies. I found the recipe on Pinterest (of course) and got my ingredients together, and went at it. Now it wasn't exactly easy, or pretty. I had a small meltdown halfway, so I asked Charlie to make his yummy PB cookies just in case I royally screwed up.

First off, the swirly cookies. Courtesy of Our Italian Kitchen.

If you see the original source here, you'll see that she did a much better job than me.

2 cups flour, plus possibly a few more tbsp (the original recipe called for cake flour, but I just used regular old all-purpose flour since I was all out of a softasilk)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (cut in chunks)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp of food coloring of your choice(and/or 1/2 tsp of any desired extra extracts)
1 1/2 cup holiday sprinkles

1. In a stand mixer, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars with paddle on medium until well blended.

2. Add butter in, gradually, and continue mixing. Add in vanilla extract. At this point, your dough will form a ball on your paddle.

3. Remove all your dough and divide into two equal parts. Return one portion back in to the mixer and add the food coloring and any extra extracts. I used Betty Crocker gel food coloring in green and vanilla extract for this batch. You could coordinate your colors and flavors, for example green food coloring matched with a mint extract or yellow with a lemon extract, etc. Also, if you are using liquid food coloring, you will need to add a few tbsp of flour to keep the dough from becoming too wet. Mix until the color is spread out evenly.

4. Roll out each portions of your dough, between two sheets a wax paper until is reaches about 11 x 9 inches and is 1/4 inch thick. Slide both unto a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. *This is where my mini meltdown ensued, because the dough was falling apart. I would leave it in the fridge for longer than 2 hrs.*

5. When firm, remove the top sheets of wax paper from both. Brush the uncolored vanilla dough lightly with water using a pastry brush. Then flip the colored dough onto the vanilla uncolored dough so they are stacked atop each other and even. Press the edges lightly with your fingertips to seal them together. Using a small pairing knife, trim the edges of the dough to make straight, even lines, if you want. I simply pressed the ends together and had 2 yummy end pieces covered in sprinkles :)

6. Pour out sprinkles onto a large platter and set aside. Be sure your dough is still cold, but flexible. Once it's ready, begin rolling the long side of dough into a swirl, jelly-roll style. Now, don't get nervous (like I did) if the outer layer of uncolored dough tears a bit. It's no problem, just pinch and pat those tears and voila, then just keep rolling.

7. Now gently lift your dough log onto the sprinkles and roll away. Cover the log completely with your sprinkles. Wrap the colorfully decorated log in plastic wrap twice. Depending on when you want to bake the cookies, either place the wrapped dough into refrigerator for about 3-4 hours or you can put it the freezer and keep it there for up to 2 months. (If freezing, give yourself time for the dough to defrost in the fridge overnight before cutting.)

8. Now the easy part. Slice your dough into 1/4-1/8 inch slices and bake on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move them to a cookie rack to finish cooling. Enjoy your whimsical Christmas cookies!

Not the prettiest thing in the world, but not bad for baking from scratch cookies for the first time :)

*Stay tuned next week for Charlie's famous PB cookies*

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