Saturday, July 10, 2010
YES, I am a week late for the 4th of July festivities. But, no, these cookies were not late. I made these two weeks ago in anticipation of a week-long vacation from which I just returned. So I have a good excuse and it's better late than never!
Quick story on how these patriotic treats came to be. See, I'm a big football/soccer fan and have been since I got into it a few years back in London. It was great rooting for the Three Lions (England's national team) but once I got back to the States, it had to be Team USA all the way! (Especially since we were such underdogs and needed support.) So this World Cup, I went all out and, what do you know: America flags, shirts, beads, etc all pop up in stores, right in time for our big games (and July 4th, but whatever).
My 5 year old niece saw me with all this America bling. A few days went by and we were visiting at my mom's house where she proceeded to bring me a set of patriotic cookie cutters that she bought at the store. I said, "What's this?" and she replied, "They're for YOU ... to make cookies. For ME." Oooohhkay! So I kinda had to at that point. I mean, it was sort of an order.
But truth be told, I love doing this stuff. It's not that much work and the final product coming out cute is worth every minute!
I tried a new sugar cookie recipe because I'm always on the prowl for the perfect sugar cookie. These came out nice and soft, held their shape perfectly and were hard to mess up (even after re-rolling). They never browned but did get crisp (though light) if I rolled thin enough. Keep them at a respectable thickness and they'll be nice and soft!
Also, the icing is from those tubes of Wilton "frosting" you buy in the stores. I struggled with the thought of royal icing and in the end, just made do with what I had. Turns out, that sweet frosting is really good on cookies. Think of those Lofthouse soft sugar cookies you get in the store. Mmm. But I piped on the lines and just spread the rest with a knife! It's all about adapting with what you have!
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 piece vanilla bean, about 2 inches long, or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and, using a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds into the butter mixture. If using vanilla extract, add it now. Mix well.
In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Reduce the speed to low and beat until well mixed.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten the balls into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.) Let it soften slightly at room temperature before continuing.
Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Prepare 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out a dough disk 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheets. Gather up and reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough disks
Bake until the cookies are golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Decorate the cookies as desired with colored sugars and decorating pens. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Makes 24 to 30 cookies, depending on cutter size.
And, P.S. I AM heartbroken by our results at the World Cup. But it doesn't lessen my love for our national team and players. They're still awesome and I love them!