The Christmas Cookie Debacle of 2010 – Part 2

APOLOGIES FOR TYPOS/MISSPELLINGS AND THE LIKE. I TYPED THIS MOSTLY ONE HANDED WHILE A 25 LB MEATLOAF (MY 18 MO. OLD) CLUTCHED MY ARM AS HE NAPPED NEXT TO ME.

We last left our heroine with trays full of (mostly tiny) sugar cookies. Next step was the gingerbread. Also, a mix, and very easy. Just pour contents of package into a bowl…

Add egg, butter and water (this called for “softened” butter so I employed my finally learned after much trial and error method, which is to put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds…

Once the dough was mixed, I tried to roll it out on the island. I note that the recipe did NOT call for chilling it first unless it was sticky, but seemed to think there was a possibility you could roll it out and cut immediately after mixing. It thought wrong.

So I put that bad boy in the fridge for a bit to harden and moved on to buttercream. Here is where I finally did something from scratch because I am not a fan of canned frosting when I have a choice, and we all saw what happened last time I tried to use food coloring in premade frosting…

I used this recipe for the buttercream (found by googling and rejecting any recipe that called for Crisco because it grosses me out):

Directions:

1 cup butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened

3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Instructions:

Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed [This must be an instruction for someone with a much cooler mixer than my $30 handheld that I got from my wedding registry in 2004. Suffice it to say, mine doesn’t have any “attachments” except the two wire mixers that you pop into the body when it’s not stored in the cabinet.]

Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.  Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt,  and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for for 3 minutes.  If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar.  If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.  Enjoy!

I used about 3 3/4 cups of powdered sugar and only 2 tbsps of milk because I wanted it pretty thick. Once done, I set aside about 1/3 to keep white.

Next step was coloring the rest, with my nifty GEL food coloring I’d ordered from Williams Sonoma (I don’t work for them, I swear, I just really like that store, especially for baking supplies, and there’s no Sur La Table in the suburbs near us).

It mixed up pretty nicely and produced a very rich, bright color:

I will note that while it looked nice, the vanilla extract was kind of overpowering both to smell and taste so in the future I’d use significantly less.

The dough was then chilled so we tried again to roll it out and cut it, with better results.

A couple trays later we were ready to decorate!

So I readied my frosting…

…and proceeded  to start blindly squirting it on cookies…

…you saw in the last post how well this turned out. At least it tasted ok!

So, cookie tree disaster complete, I turned to decorating the handful of large sugar cookies we had made for our son’s daycare teachers. Except the WS decorating pens I got were complete garbage. You’re supposed to melt the stuff by pacing the vials in hot water and kneading them every so often. Well, one burst open when I kneaded it…

And my attempts to get anything out of the busted one or the others yielded the following:

So I did what any self respecting fuckup would do -I cannibalized the cookie tree and used the buttercream on it to decorate the sugar cookies…

At least the end result of the sugar cookies didn’t turn out to badly and I could take them to daycare with a straight face.

Here’s hoping Santa fares better when we make his cookies tomorrow.

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