Monday, August 24, 2009

celebration sugar cookies

Shawn asked in the comments yesterday about my recipe for cut-out cookies. I do like this one pretty well, so I thought I'd share it here. I like it because the cookies taste good and have a tender velvety texture and I love that the edges stay fairly "crisp" when baked--that is a very big deal for me. There is a bakery (Tuttini's) in Santa Barbara where they sell bear shaped cut-out cookies that are totally sharp and defined around the edges. That is what I aspire to. On the downside, these cookies do contain some shortening (along with mostly butter) which we are cutting way back on, so that is the downside. I intend to experiment--soon maybe--using all butter and will share the results here when I do.**
I got this recipe on the Cooking Light BB some years ago. It's not a CL recipe though--someone just posted it.

Celebration Sugar Cookies
2 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. corn starch
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. butter at room temperature
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the egg and extracts and mix until blended, about 1 minute.
Add the flour on low speed and mix until just incorporated. Divide dough in half and form into two discs--wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour. Roll out to desired thickness. This dough is easy to roll out, but don't get carried away. I find I prefer these cookies nice and thick. Cut out cookies. Bake on parchment lined sheets at 350 for 10 minutes or so, to your preference.

**11/14/11--editing to add that I never have tried an all-butter version, because I think it would spread too much and that nice defined edge would be lost. I do buy the shortening at the health food store now -- they have the kind that is non-hydrogenated vs. the Crisco that is available at the regular grocery which is trans-fat.
I used to roll out cookies like this just occasionally (like at Christmas) but I find myself doing it more frequently now--still for special occasions but more often because there is just something so special or even a bit magical about having a specially shaped cookie in your hand, deciding which part to bite off first and knowing your mama made you such a thing. I just like that whole scene and I want it to be part of my children's memories.

By the way, Shawn also asked about how one keeps one's expectations in check when hosting a family party like this. I'm all about keeping my mama expectations super mellow. With teens and young kids and in fact for all of us you just never know how it's going to go, so I try to just let it be what it will be. The more relaxed and low key I get the more fun we have, it seems. One big thing I'm learning all the time is to let things go if they're not working out. These little family parties I like to do are a lot of work for the mama so I try to do less and have fun more. I had lots of ideas for the midsummer party that I couldn't get to (making our own fairy wings for example) but it just didn't work out so I didn't stress about it. And we had plenty of theme-y fun nonetheless. I also keep the meals really simple. And it's always important at some point in the party to just give over to the fun and enjoy interacting with the family.


Denise C. said...

Where did you find the adorable cookie cutters, and metal cookie tin? As always, L.O.V.E. your blog!!! :)

Mary Beth said...

Denise C.--the cookie cutters are from Sur la Table. The tin is from Cost Plus World Market (a number of years ago). Thanks for your kind words about my blog! I really enjoy the nice feedback.
Mary Beth

Shawn said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Perfect timing for both the recipe, and the words of wisdom regarding expectations. We are about to celebrate my son's first birthday (Saturday) and I'm already feeling the pressure of expectations. I'm going to try and keep my "mama expectations" in check and enjoy the celebration for what it is. Thanks again Mary Beth.

La Dolce Vita said...

Have I said enough that you are an inspiration!?

Jessica said...

My grandma has a recipe for sugar cookies (called 'turkey cookies' at our house) which as shortening in it as well. I also try to avoid it as much as possible, but when I replace with butter they don't taste like hers. I'd love to hear how your experiment goes.

Jess said...

Thanks for the recipe! I am a compulsive cookie-cutter purchaser and I have a great gingerbread recipe, but I'm always on the look-out for a great sugar cookie.
These might make it to the table this week.

Julie said...

your cookies look wonderful! i love how simple and intentional you are!

Kelsey B. said...

These are so sweet, I adore making sugar cookies with my daughter and love your ideas.

Denise C. said...

Awesome! I will add these to my ever-growing wish list! :)

Eco Mama said...


gardenmama said...

Your blog always looks and feels so peaceful and pretty, I always enjoy my visit here! I like your sentiments about making magical cookies for your children, it certainly is in details such as these that I also hope my children will find comfort, traditions and memories...
(Those are the prettiest sugar cookies I have ever seen mama! Mine always seem to turn out er um brownish or slightly golden brown ahem! ; )

Ellie said...

You wrote: "One big thing I'm learning all the time is to let things go if they're not working out." And I think that is the smartest thing I have heard in some while. One of those *ping* moments.