Saturday, December 22, 2012

Crisp Christmas Sugar Cookies

...otherwise known as Calm Water Cookies, only because I have serious doubts about making them in any sort of rolly anchorage. I actually had my doubts about making them on the boat at all because every year when we make these my kitchen looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy exploded. But I decided to try anyway because this year I was only going to make 2 kinds of regular cookies for my husband since I had busied myself the whole baking season with making allergy diet legal cookies for my 2 grandsons who are suffering due to food allergies. These are my husband's favorites, and this was the only time I had to make them, so onward I went. It turns out that when the cookie making doesn't involve people under the age of 10, it's a lot cleaner. Who knew?

This cookie is a very delicate, crisp sugar cookie that has a wonderful texture and a very mild flavor when not iced. You can brush the dough with milk and sprinkle colored sugar crystals on top after you cut them out and put them on the baking sheet but before baking. You can also ice them with the icing below which hardens into a sugar coating. I much prefer them plain, but everyone has different tastes. When iced they are impressive as a gift or for that office party <cringe>. They are also excellent with a corner or half dipped in melted chocolate and then finely ground walnuts sprinkled into the chocolate before cooling. The real shame of it is that I seldom make these except for the holidays, yet they make a wonderful every-day cookie.


1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar


Beat the butter in a bowl till creamy.  Add the powdered sugar a half cup at a time, mixing well in between. Add the egg and vanlla and mix well. (Sorry I don't have a picture of this step. I was distracted by something and totally forgot) Mix the flour, soda and cream of tartar together and add to the wet ingredients. Blend till incorporated but do not overmix.

If you don't have cream of tartar, don't attempt to make the cookies. I thought once, "what difference can 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar possibly make?" and promptly found out. The cookies were heavy and tasted profoundly different.

Place the dough in a ziploc or plastic container and chill at least an hour. Divide dough into quarters. While rolling out one quarter, keep the remaining 3 in the ziploc so it doesn't dry out.

Roll the dough out fairly thin, about 1/8", on a lightly floured surface. I cover my table with waxed paper or freezer paper or parchment. If you roll them thin, they take less time to bake and will be crisper. If you roll them thicker, allow a minute or two longer in the oven. They will be softer after being baked.

Cut with cookie cutters that you have dipped in flour. Gently transfer the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Either an air bake or parchment lined pan will work, but these will stick on most anything else. Bake at 375° for 6-9 minutes depending on the thickness you rolled the dough, the temp of your oven, and the color of your cookie sheet. Watch them carefully as they burn quickly. Once you've done one batch you'll know what to set the timer for next. If you use parchment, you can have the next batch ready to go by the time the first one is out. Slide the parchment off the hot pan and slide the next one on. These means no dirty pans and a quicker transfer. One word of caution, though. If you put cookies on a hot pan you will need to reduce the time you bake them. After removing the parchment to a cooling rack, allow them to cool completely then ice with cookie icing.

Cookie Icing

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbl honey
2-3 Tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla

(Sorry about the blurry picture!)
Sift the powdered sugar to remove any lumps. Put 2 cups in a bowl and ad the honey, vanilla, and 2 Tbl milk. Add as much more milk as necessary to get a slightly thick mixture that you can still stream from a fork. Remove a small amount into two small bowls and color one red and the other green. You will need to use the gel style colorant in order to get it dark enough without thinning it out too much. Ice the cookies one at a time with the white base and then drizzle the color from a knife or fork onto the cookie. Be creative. You can make some awesome designs by pulling a toothpick across the color after you drizzle it on. Allow the cookies to dry completely and the icing is hard to the touch. Store in an airtight bag or box. These freeze very well.

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