Through the years, people have asked me why I bother cooking or baking if it’s just for me. I’ve appreciated those gentle reminders that I’m not yet married. It has saved me a lot of money. I mean, without being notified of my singlehood, I’d totally forget that I’m not married and buy extra food to cook for my imaginary husband, Mr. Snuffleupagus. I started getting really interested in cooking several years ago when I had a lactose-intolerance issue. That eventually resolved itself, but during that time I could not eat any dairy. It was soy-central-station since milk products, like wheat gluten and other food-allergens, can be hidden in foods. My annoying dietary predicament became a fun flavor challenge as I struggled and learned to make things taste good without the use of butter, milk, or cheese. Although the lactose-intolerance has since subsided, the cooking/baking habit stuck and it’s actually very relaxing and therapeutic for me. Now if only I could develop some sort of dust-intolerance which would force me to get in the habit of cleaning more often….
My mother was a teacher prior to having me, and then after I started going to school, she became a room-mother. Do they even have room-mothers anymore? Basically, she and a few of my friends’ mothers would volunteer to help out at class parties and special lunches. When I was in school, moms would send kids into class with homemade baked goods for birthday parties and holiday parties. Apparently they aren’t allowed to do holiday and birthday parties anymore, nor can they bring in homemade goodies. I can understand the reasoning and yet, it makes me very sad because room mothers, parties, and cookies were an integral part of my elementary school experience.
Any fortunate member of my class got to have my mother’s rolled cut-out cookies. I know what you are thinking: big effin’ deal, they’re just some sugar cookies with icing. I respectfully disagree with a loud, “Oh shoot, no you di-n’t!” My mother made these for every single class holiday and birthday. Then as I grew out of elementary school, she made them every year for Christmas. They were everyone’s favorite and whenever a party was on the horizon, people would always ask, “Is your mom making her cookies?” I was always assigned the decorating job and could be as creative as I liked. Actually, I had never made the cookies before (the dough part) and in fact, never even had the recipe until a few weeks ago. I found it (thankfully!) while cleaning out some items at Crazy Bob’s house. An opportunity has arrived where I can make these for a co-worker’s birthday, so I’ve decided to share the recipe. Now everyone can enjoy the cookies of Lady Sensory’s youth. The dough needs to be refrigerated overnight and just allow yourself enough time to bake and frost them. Yes, you are going to have to slow your roll if you want to do these justice.
Lady Sensory’s Rollin’ with my Homies Cut-out Cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 cup granulated sugar (I used my vanilla sugar)
2 tbsp milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup flour
Beat sugar and butter together until fluffy, add egg, milk and vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt). You can get crazy and sift it but I find whisking is fine, particularly if you are whipping all of this up with an electric mixer. Add dry ingredient mixture, a little at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture until combined. Remove dough from the bowl with floured hands and place on large piece of waxed paper (you may need to add a teensy bit of flour if it’s sticky). Fold the paper around the dough so it is completely wrapped and place it in the fridge until ready to use. I recommend chilling at least overnight and the dough should be fine for about a week. When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough (or a portion of it) and roll out on a floured surface (with a floured rolling-pin) until about 1/4″ thick. Use any cut-outs you like, place on ungreased cookie sheets (I use parchment paper) and bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool before decorating. Top with the icing below.
Lady Sensory’s Vanilla-Ice-Ice-Baby Icing:
Sprinkles/Sanding Sugar/Decorations – whatever your little heart desires.
You’ll note that I have no measurements. Here’s why: it’s really all about the texture/consistency. Put confectioner’s sugar in a bowl (let’s say, at least 1 cup or more) and add about 1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla. Use a fork or a whisk to stir. Now gradually add the milk, a tiny bit at a time, until you reach the desired consistency: spreadable, but not runny! Now, if you are making colored frosting, stop adding milk at the conversion point (right before the frosting gets too smooth), then add color until the desired consistency is reached. Food coloring drops are liquid and thus, will make the frosting runny, but you can always add more confectioner’s sugar if it gets out of hand! Frost, swirl, and sprinkle with decorations to make them pretty. Allow to set for a few hours before packing them away. Cookies keep, frosted, for about 5 days. I think the cookies get a little softer each day. Unfrosted cookies can be frozen and then thawed prior to frosting. As a general rule of thumb, I never re-freeze a cookie that has been frozen; and I never freeze a frosted cookie. Any cookies that don’t pass quality control can be eaten before anyone else sees them, which is a nice bonus for that not so artistically inclined cookie-decorator. If anyone asks where all the cookies went, you just tell them Mr. Snuffleupagus ate them.