Making Perfect Cookies with The Baking Journal

Making Perfect Cookies with <em>The Baking Journal</em>

We here at CET and ThinkTV are excited to be able to produce The Baking Journal. In this blog, our host, Stephanie, celebrates the season and shares one of her favorite cookie recipes. Enjoy!

Season’s Greetings, all my Baking Journal friends!

We are deep into the holiday decorating, entertaining, and cookie baking season! I don’t know about you, but I always feel like I must pull out all the stops on everything I do this time of year. From entertaining to gift giving, I envision a Martha Stewart Christmas every year completed with the ease and comfort of the Barefoot Contessa’s relaxed style. In years past, I would scour all my baking magazines, re-watch all the holiday episodes of the Best British Baking Show and pour through my file (oh wait…. slash that) my huge box of recipe clippings and handwritten notes. I try to select the perfect combination of cookies that would all complement each other and look beautiful packaged just right for gift giving, as well as on holiday dessert trays. I sadly admit it has NEVER worked out the way I imagined, but even still… everyone enjoys themselves. Everyone has good food to eat. And everyone receives delicious treats to take home. Almost perfect!

Sooooo this year, I decided to keep it simple. (Ha! I wish I had a dime for every time I said that.) But it is already mid-December and I still have presents to buy and cookies to bake. Time and Santa Claus wait for no one and I physically have no time to bake 10 different types of cookies. Instead I am going to make only one type of cookie but make them uniquely festive using vintage-inspired holiday edible rice paper appliques. I found them online and I knew I just had to try them. The images are so cool I think everyone will still ooh and aah and no one will wonder why I only prepared one type of cookie! 😉

Full disclosure here, I am not going to tell you these are easy peasy. They definitely take a little time. I’ve included my recipe for the best sugar cookies ever (which are delicious on their own) in case you want to give these a try! This is how I did it:

First, I made a batch of the sugar cookie dough. I love this recipe because you don’t have to refrigerate the cookie dough before cutting out cookie shapes and the cookies will keep their shape while they bake. I rolled the dough out to ¼ inch and used a scalloped square cookie cutter that was slightly larger than my rice paper designs. I baked the cookies and allowed them to cool. While they were cooling, I made some royal icing to ice the sugar cookies. I didn’t color the icing because I thought the white was a perfect backdrop for these vintage holiday designs. You need to let the icing totally set before placing the designs. That will take at least a few hours or you can let them dry overnight, which is what I did.

When the icing is ready, pour a little bit of light corn syrup into a bowl and using a small brush, cover the back side of the rice paper applique with the corn syrup and place the design on the cookie. Adhere the rice paper to the cookie by flipping it over and gently pressing down to make sure the design is smooth and that all the edges are flat on the cookie surface Allow to dry (at least 1-2 hours).

Now, you could serve these as is, but you can see the outline of the design and that bugged me. I put some of the royal icing in a piping bag and piped either small dots around the square edges of the design or framed it with a straight border around all four sides. I then covered the dots or icing border with white sprinkles. I also dusted the cookie with white sparkles and voila, you have a beautifully festive and delicious holiday cookie. As you can see from the photo, they are truly worthy of showstopper status, and I promise they taste as good as they look! Now that my cookies are finished, I’m off to finish my holiday shopping, wrap presents & plan our Christmas eve menu.

Sincere wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!

Best Ever Sugar Cookie Recipe

6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks), room temperature
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

1. Cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, almond extract and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well.

2. Put a handful of the freshly made dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to desired thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Cut out cookie shapes and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat with scraps after cutting cookies.

3. Bake at 350° F for 8 -10 minutes. Let cool. Recipe makes 8 dozen 3″ cookies.