This is a wonderful time of the year for baking. The weather is chilly and the kitchen is warm and cozy from baking cookies. The entire house takes on the gentle aroma of sugar cookies. Christmas cookies are perfect for holiday get togethers and gift giving. Or simply curl up next to the fireplace with a good novel, a cold glass of milk and a plate of cookies.
These Sugar Cookies are a recipe that my sweet Grandma use to make. The recipe was handed down to my Mother and to me and now to my daughter.
I have a little story about these cookies. The first time I made them we were living in a small trailer. I had no clue about cooking...let alone baking cookies. The recipe was rather vague concerning the flour because my Grandma didn't need much instruction when it came to cooking. It listed the ingredients, said to add flour and bake. No amount of flour was given. Nor did it say in what order to add the ingredients. With a call to my Mother, I found out you cream the sugar and shortening, add eggs, etc. But, I was on my own with the flour. I added, and added and added flour until it formed a dough. After the cookies had been baked, decorated and set out to dry, everu flat surface in my trailer was full of sugar cookies! The recipe takes between 7 1/2 - 8 cups of flour! My Grandma would bake cookies for her very large family and the farm hands and all her company.
I have to say this about my Grandma. She must of been a strong woman. It is no little feat beating the flour into the rest of the ingredients. I remember in years past how tired my arms would become. This year I blessed my Kitchen Aide Mixer over and over...it made short work of the cookie mixing process.
Grandma's Sugar Cookies
3 cups sugar
1 ½ cups shortening
1 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Flour enough to roll (or as it turns out usually 7 1/2 to 8 cups)
Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Beat eggs and add to sugar/shortening mixture. Stir in milk and vanilla. Add baking soda, baking powder and salt to a cup of flour and stir in. Add enough flour to roll dough. At this point you may chill the dough. Turn out about a fifth of the dough onto a flour covered board or pastry cloth. Roll about ¼" thick, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 350º for 14 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool and frost.
That takes us to the frosting recipe. For many years I only used powered sugar with a little milk and food coloring. Recently I discovered a wonderful recipe that makes a shiny hard icing.
Sugar Cookie Icing
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla
assorted food coloring
In a bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and vanilla until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.
While making a mad dash through our little local grocery store last week, I found this fantastic cookie cutter! I think it really made a difference. I love the chunky cookie it makes. I searched online and found many others to choose from. My gingerbread boy cookie cutter was well worth the $2.99 I spent! I'm thinking the snowman and Christmas tree are on my 'to buy' list.
I forgot to mention that the decorating was done by my husband and my daughter! Didn't they do an awesome job?