Thursday, March 17, 2011

Decorating in My Kitchen

I'm not much of a cook, but I do like anything that involves decorating...

Last night I made St. Patrick's Day themed cookies to share in my fire class and at the squad tonight. 

This is my favorite cut-out sugar cookie recipe to date (I found it a while ago on  The dough is easy to roll, the cookies turn out crispy (I think cake-like sugar cookies are lame) and they have a hint of lemon which I think tastes perfect.  

Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
(makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on size)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until golden. Add the cream cheese and again beat until well incorporated. Add the flavorings and lemon zest. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add, bit by bit, to the butter/sugar mixture until fully incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour. Heat the oven to 350° F. Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies. Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Let cool before icing or decorating.

Sidenote- I've discovered that if you line your baking sheet with parchment/freezer paper it will keep the bottoms of your cookies from burning (even if you're predispositioned to burn things like me).

I used buttercream icing.  I followed this recipe from a handmade cookbook made by my ever talented and thoughtful Aunt Beth: 
Buttercream Icing
(makes about 3 cups of icing)

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

And because I just couldn't resist, among the shamrocks, I also made a few fire hydrant shaped cookies. They're adorned with gummie life savers:

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

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