December 12, 2010

Anticipation.....of Cookies!

The Maine House is baking....our absolute best, favorite, colossal, melt-in-in-your-mouth, slap-yo'-momma sugar cookies!! The first recipe is one that was actually given to me when I married Darling. Miss Mimi lived next door to us growing up. She was a wonderful homemaker, accomplished pianist and teacher. She was always baking the most wonderful desserts and sharing these goodies with her neighbors. Here she came across the yard with a plate of warm cookies or a huge chocolate cake. How she kept her figure, I will never know. She was the pianist at our wedding and she presented us with a box of various "first year stuff"....among them cookie cutters and this recipe for our first Christmas! What a wonderful gift.....I have made them for 38 years and my children request them each and every year! 

The second recipe is the selected one used by sister Judy. Miss Judy is a registered nurse and one of her dear, sweet little patients gave her this recipe years ago. Her name was Miss Edith and she was quite well known for her Christmas cookies in Pensacola. So it is with that .....that I am sharing our two favorite sugar cookie recipes!

This year The Maine House has chosen cookie shapes that will represent Maine......A moose, of course.....a snowflake.......and a Christmas evergreen tree!! I scoured Old Port until I found the perfect Moose shape.....at The Pantry (my favorite Stonewall Kitchen Store) ....it actually came with a package mix from Suzipoo....I am keeping the cookie cutter and sending the mix to granddaughter Abbie.....she loves to bake too at the ripe ole' age of ten!

Estelle's Ultimate Sugar Cookie
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.
The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away.

 Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won’t appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don’t let them over bake! I find 7 1/2 minutes is about perfect but if they are even lightly browned on bottom, I decrease the time by 30 seconds. I like them super soft with not even a hint of browned edges or bottom. This way they literally melt in my mouth.

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting. The baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stored in a tupperware or ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. I also often freeze 1/2 of the sugar cookie dough when I don’t have time or don’t want to roll it out and cut shapes. I wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then stick it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze it for up to a month. I take it out the night before I want to roll it out and store it in the refrigerator to thaw (for about 12-15 hours). About 30 minutes before I want to use it, I let it sit on the counter to soften a bit and then I roll it out and cut out the cookies.

Judy's Frosted Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond flavoring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar, add next 3. Add dry mix, refrigerate 1 hour plus (overnight fine). Roll 1/8 inch thick, cut shapes, bake 375 for 7-8 minutes.

1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 – 1/2 cup milk or cream
food coloring
Blend all, add desired amount of food coloring. Let cookies cool then frost.

"It was a splendid Christmas! Nellie went to bed early, so as to let Santa have a chance at the stockings. In the morning, she was the first up of anybody and went in and felt them all lumpy with packages of candy, oranges and grapes, pocketbooks, and rubber balls. Her young lady sister had a silk umbrella, Papa and Mama had potatoes and coal wrapped in tissue as always. She waited till the rest of the family awoke, and then burst into the library. Large presents were laid out....É books, breast pins, dolls, a little stove, watercolors, ink stands, Turkish paste and nougat, candied cherries- all surrounding a lit tree standing in the wastebasket. Nellie paid no mind to breakfast, rather she ate candy all the day, turkey, cranberries, plum pudding- then went out to coast on the snow. When the pathetic, spoiled child returned crying with a belly-ache, Papa scolded Mama sternly, saying he would see if his house was turned into that sort of a fool's paradise another year! Mama smiled sweetly, recalling those same words he had exclaimed the year prior."

(Excerpt from "Christmas Every Day" by W.D. Howells, 1886)

No comments:

Post a Comment

I so love receiving your thoughts and comments. I also hope you found something that made you smile.