Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas - Cookie Recipes !!

Let's start baking!

Butter Cut Outs
A nice, buttery tasting cookie that's so easy to make you don't even need to soften the butter!

Makes about 4 dozen (2 1/2 inch) cookies
Special equipment: Food processor, parchment (baking) paper, cookie cutters

No food processor? See note below.

1 cup sugar
2 sticks cold butter (margarine not recommended)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus extra to roll out dough)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large or extra large egg (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Put sugar, then butter into the food processor. Pulse briefly - about 30 seconds - until butter is in smallish pieces and starts to be creamed into the sugar.

Add flour and baking powder. Pulse again until butter is creamed and flour starts to mix in - about 30 seconds more.

Add remaining ingredients and process until a nice smooth dough is formed - about 30 seconds. Dough will be soft.

Remove from processor and refrigerate at least an hour - up to 24 hours is OK.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat to 375 degrees.
Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop half the dough onto a floured surface (use about 2 tablespoons flour). Work the dough lightly with your hands to soften. Pat into a 4 inch circle and place onto floured surface. Spread 2 more tablespoons of flour evenly on top of the dough circle. Lightly roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch.

Cut out shapes. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Brush off excess flour with a dry pastry brush. Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and slide entire parchment sheet (with cookies on it) off onto a cooling rack.

Remove cookies from parchment when completely cooled - about 1/2 hour.

Baker's tips:
1. The baking time varies according to the thickness of the dough, the shape of the cookie and the oven. Always bake a test cookie to determine the right baking time for your cookies.

2. If your dough seems too soft, knead in a little extra flour, a tablespoon at a time. Most roll out cookie dough recipes take into account that you will be adding additional flour as you roll out the dough.

3. Never re-roll scraps until all the dough has been rolled out then gather all the scraps together and re-roll. Don't re-roll the re-rolled scrapes until all the re-rolled scraps have been rolled out then gather all the re-rolled scraps together and re-re-roll out a third time continuing the same as nedded until all the dough is used up. This keeps all the cookies uniform in the amount of flour they contain.

4. Cookies can be baked on an ungreased cookie sheet but then you have to wash the cookie sheet (and dry it very well) before baking another batch. Once you start baking on parchment you'll wonder what took you so long!

No food processor?

Soften the butter by leaving it at room temperature for about 3/4 an hour.

(I know you'll be tempted to microwave it but the butter must NOT melt or your cookies will be tough. To microwave refrigerator temperature butter, cut it into chunks and heat only about 20 seconds then let it sit at room temperature about 10 minutes before using. Butter should be mashable with a spoon.)

Cream softened butter by hand (using a wooden or metal spoon) or with a heavy duty electric mixer. Cream in sugar. Add egg and whip till fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate dough 1 hour (or up to 24). Continue as above.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

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