Friday, March 22, 2013

Flashback Friday: Family Favorite Sugar Cookies

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

If cookie dough could tell stories, I might be in trouble.  You see, every time my mom made this cookie dough, little hands snuck into the bowl to pinch off pieces when no one was looking.  Remember when I told you about those two little girls "helping" in the kitchen?  When those same two girls were old enough to know better, they still snuck so much dough my mom once had to make another batch.  Oops.

When the dough actually made it to the cookie stage, my brother and I got to help decorate.  Putting sprinkles on Christmas angels takes some serious concentration and teamwork.  Birthday parities often included themed cookie decorating sessions with all the colored frosting and sprinkles a kid could wish for.

What makes these cookies so addicting is the 'secret' change my mom made.  Instead of vanilla extract we've always used almond extract.  The faded recipe came from a Crisco advertisement found on the pages of a Sesame Street magazine.  The page is rather greasy now, but I still pull it out every time I need a sugar cookie base.

Cut-out cookies are just the beginning.  While I've always thought of this as a recipe for rolled cookies, I recently discovered they're even better (and less work) without the rolling pin and cookie cutters.  If you simply scoop or roll them into balls then dip in sugar or sprinkles the resulting cookie is perfectly soft in the center with just a hint of crisp on the edges and chewy all around.  Seriously good.  This is also my go-to recipe for fruit pizza crust.

If you do decide to get out the cookie cutters and rolling pin you can go for soft and thick or thin and crisp depending on the thickness and size of your cookie as well as how long you bake it.  When choosing a cookie cutter, keep in mind that the cookies will spread slightly rather than holding their exact shape.

For ultra soft cookies just roll the dough into balls.  Remove from the oven when the edges are just beginning to brown, the centers will be puffed but still look very raw.  Don't worry, they'll continue to cook as they cool and will firm up just enough.  The cookies also sink as they cool for the perfect crackled look.  Assuming you don't eat all the dough first.

Sugar Cookies
recipe barely adapted from Crisco advertisement 1990's

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Butter Flavor Crisco**
2 large eggs
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
sugars for decorating

**Be sure to use butter-flavored shortening, not plain.  Check your labels to find a brand without trans fat.

*In a large bowl cream together sugar and Crisco until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, syrup and almond extract.  Beat to combine.  In a medium bowl combine flower, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add dry mixture to creamed mixture until well blended.  Cover and chill 1 hour or until firm.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
* For cut-out cookies: On a well-floured surface roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into shapes with a floured cookie cutter; use a metal spatula to transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugars, if desired.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges just begin to brown.  Let cool on pans 3 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.  If desired, decorate with frosting and sprinkles once fully cooled.
* For round cookies:  Roll dough into 1-inch balls (or use a cookie scoop).  Coat with granulated sugar, decorating sugar or sprinkles.  Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake 7-9 minutes or until edges just begin to turn light golden brown.  Centers will be puffed but look undone, do not overbake.  Let stand on baking sheets 5 minutes before transferring to wire cooling rack.

Food for Thought: "Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy." -Ann Voskamp

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