Ocean City Today
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Consider making cookies to present as Christmas gifts

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Dec 21, 2017

(Dec. 22, 2017) Christmas is around the corner and last-minute shopping is top priority. Stores are packed, customers are crazed and patience is mandatory.

If this is not your preferred method of gift giving, consider making cookies. Homemade treats are always welcomed, budget friendly, and much tastier than store bought cookies.

Following are a few pointers that can make the difference between satisfactory and superior results. There is much to discuss so let’s get started.

Make sure all your ingredients and spices are fresh. Most of us do not bake often, so ingredients should be replaced yearly. Remember, you are putting a lot of effort into these cookies; do not start out with the odds stacked against you.

American home bakers prefer to measure their ingredients by volume, but measuring by weight is much more accurate.

Measuring by volume can create up to a 20 percent difference in the weight of the ingredient that is being used. If you want to invest in a scale, I highly recommend an OXO Food Scale. I have one and am very happy with its precision.

If one forgets to bring the butter to room temperature, do not microwave the dairy product to quicken the process, even if it is only for a few seconds. The process of microwaving butter will cause the cookies to fall flat which is not a good thing.

It is the smallest details that ensure perfection. Sift dry ingredients such as flour and leaveners for fluffier cookies. While we are on the subject of dry ingredients, add the dry ingredients in small batches to the wet ingredients. Use a light touch; overworking the flour makes for tough cookies.

Have you ever wondered why recipes suggest chilling the dough before you roll it? Room temperature dough will stick to the rolling pin. But in addition, chilled dough keeps the cookies from spreading in the hot oven which adds to the presentation.

Do not forget to rotate your pans when baking cookies, most ovens heat from the bottom. When you switch the pans from top to bottom and vice versa, you should also turn them from the back to the front to safeguard against any hot spots.

Cookies continue to bake and firm up on the hot baking sheet even after they are removed from the oven. For softer cookies, try underbaking by a minute or two, taking them out of the oven just as they begin to brown around the edges. For chewier cookies, let them cool on the baking sheet rather than a rack.

A mess-free working environment keeps one grounded during times of stress. Consider placing a piping bag in a tall, empty drinking glass. The glass makes a good resting place for the bag with no fuss during the interim of decorating your cookies.

Unglazed cookies require a little surface preparation to ensure your embellishments will sick. Brush the surface of the dough with water before applying decorations.

Decorating cookies usually means accumulating a collection of tiny trimmings. To keep these items organized and close at hand, store them in an art box or fishing tackle box.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, the best way to keep your home-baked cookies fresh is to layer them with parchment paper (or wax paper) and tortillas. The moisture from the tortilla seeps into the air of the container.

Simply trace the bottom of the cookie tin on a sheet of parchment paper. Cut out a circle and repeat as needed. Layer a sheet of parchment paper, tortilla and parchment in between a layer of completely cooled cookies. Repeat until cookie tin is full.

Granny’s Sugar Cookies are a tradition in my family. We have been making these cookies for 35 years. The secret is to roll out the dough paper thin.

This recipe calls for four teaspoons of whole milk. The protein in the milk creates a strong batter of dough, capable of rising and withstanding the rigors of baking. The milk also helps in tenderizing and moistening the cookies.

I use flour and sugar when I am rolling out the cookie dough. Remember, these cookies are paper thin and I find the ratio of flour to the raw dough becomes too much if one only uses flour.

One important note to make, you can double this recipe but it does not work if you triple it.

Homemade cookies are fun to make and are a festive project that the entire family can participate in. Granny’s Sugar Cookies are delicious, easy to make and stand out from your typical sugar cookie recipe. Enjoy.

In closing, I wish you and your family a wonderful and safe holiday. Merry Christmas!

Granny’s Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

½ cup butter (room temperature)

1 cup sugar

1 to 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

4 teaspoons whole milk

1 large egg

½ teaspoon table salt such as Morton’s (no kosher or seas salt)

2 teaspoons baking powder (sifted)

2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)

colored sugar

cookie cutters

1. In a large bowl, mix cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and milk and mix well. Blend in egg and again mix well. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine salt, baking powder and flour, and mix. Stir dry ingredients for 1 minute to make sure they are evenly distributed.

3. Add dry ingredients in small batches to the wet ingredients.

4. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Spread a combination of flour and sugar on your counter. Roll the dough very thinly. Cut the cookie dough with cookie cutters.

7. Place cookies on greased cookie sheet.

8. Sprinkle colored sugar on raw dough.

9. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until dough is fully cooked.

10. Allow to rest for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack until they are fully cooled and hardened.

Secret Ingredient - Grandmothers. “Grandmothers hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.”

— Unknown

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