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Sunny Day Party: Cookies for a lot of people

May 10, 2006

Sugar Cookies

Last weekend I baked for a celebration on a sunny Saturday afternoon, a celebration for some wonderful friends and their sweet new baby. I wanted pretty things that were small and easy to eat at a reception, but not too fussy or fancy. It was an afternoon, and there were lots of kids around. So I turned to the old reliable: sugar cookies.

Sugar cookies are one of those things that vary wildly from recipe to recipe; some are crisp, others chewy and cakelike, some tender, short, and flaky, like pie crust. This one worked out well for me, so I am going to describe exactly what they are like, and under what circumstances I would make them again.

First of all, I left the dough in the fridge overnight, and when I pulled it out it had hardened, like pie dough, into a solid buttery lump. It was rock hard, let me tell you. I worked it between my hands and the rolling pin and got a marvelous upper body workout rolling it smooth.

But that was the only difficult part - once rolled they cut beautifully. No cracking or falling into crumbly bits - this dough is a dream to work with. I would make these again when I want cookies that will hold their shape in cutting and baking; it would hold even complicated or fussy shapes well. It is also an excellent dough for kids; once it's rolled out even a two-year-old can cut out cookies that won't fall apart when she tries to scrape them up. (See, I know this because a two-year-old was helping. She kept telling me to "Roll, roll, roll!")

Sugar Cookies

We cut most of these medium thick, which turned out a firm yet tender cookie, with a slight give in the bite before snapping under the teeth. They were very, very buttery, but not greasy. I cut them into stars, big and little, and dozens of ridged biscuit rounds. After they baked and cooled I glazed most of them, then sandwiched some with raspberry jam and others with the hazelnut chocolate goodness that is Nutella, oozing out between the layers.

The crumb was fairly light and moist, but certainly not cakelike or soft like a looser drop cookie. These are firm, sturdy sugar cookies - the workhorse of large batches. I prefer a softer, chewier cookie normally, but they weren't too brittle or crisp. When I left the filled ones in the fridge overnight they softened marvelously with their fillings to become a slightly chewier, softer cookie, without dissolving into grainy mush. And soft like this, with chocolate and jam and a crispy glaze that shatters under the first bite, like this they are perfect.

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies for A Lot of People

3 cups butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
6 oz. cream cheese (3/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. lemon zest
9 cups flour
4.5 tsp. baking powder
1.5 tsp. salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until golden.
3. Add the cream cheese and again beat until well incorporated.
4. Add the flavorings and lemon zest.
5. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add, bit by bit, to the butter/sugar mixture. You will have chosen a large bowl for this particular recipe, I hope - mine was overflowing by this point and I ended up doing the final mix in a large plastic bag.
6. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour - preferably overnight.
7. Divide into smaller balls and roll out 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness.
8. Bake cookies at 350 degrees F for 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness. The small, thinner ones started browning after about 8 minutes, and I didn't want these brown at all. The larger ones had a slight golden bottom after 11 minutes, which was perfect for my purposes.
9. Let cool, then store in a tightly covered container.

It is hard to quantify amounts with these; it obviously depends on how large you cut them. I got about 8 dozen, I think?

Posted by Faith at 10 May 2006

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we love your cookies! we are making them as soon as we get back from school!

Posted by: vicky at March 6, 2007 04:10 AM

where are you?

Posted by: Jane at March 8, 2007 06:59 PM

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