Monday, February 15, 2010

Preparing for Drop In & Decorate!

We're hosting a Drop In & Decorate event in our home in a few weeks. And in preparation of the event, I decided to start baking the cookies as early as possible. Since I'm planning to [hopefully] have about 100 cookies, I knew I'd need to "get on the stick". And quick. I'm a procrastinator that should really seek help in the form a 12-step program. But I doubt I'll ever get around to it.

Today was an ideal day for making dough and baking cookies. For the 5th time since January 1st, Huntsville encountered winter weather and today it was snow. We're not setup to deal with icy conditions. And at the Tyson house, our driveway resembled the glaze of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Sadly, the thought made me hungry for one, but traveling down our driveway had only one likely destination - slipping and sliding through our neighbors front door.

Our Drop In & Decorate cookies will be donated to the Downtown Rescue Mission in Huntsville - an organization that provides services to displaced and homeless persons. We're already considering the next event for our cookies to go to Hope Place.

I devised my own recipe, with the direction of several others. Finding a fool-proof, non-spreading sugar cookie recipe is difficult, if not darn impossible. But I persisted and came up with this.

Sugar Cookies
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup vanilla sugar (see note)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon table salt)

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until light, fluffy and pale. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add 2 cups at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition, until dough forms a ball.

Divide dough into 3 (or 4, depending on your thickness preference) freezer (gallon sized) bags. Roll dough to bottom corners, cutting a small hole in the corners to allow air to escape. Roll in the bag to create an even square. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes. (8 minutes if you separated into 4 bags. Or 12 minutes if you separated into 3 bags.)

Note: Combine sugar and vanilla beans in a tight-sealing container. When using vanilla sugar from the container, replace the amount you used. That way, you'll always have vanilla sugar.

Using freezer bags allow for even thickness and cooking. It's a trick I will use forever!

These cookies really hold their shape and the spreading is very minor.

We're using several cookie cutters - circle, tulip, heart, star, fluted circles, fluted hearts, cross, butterfly, and geometric circles. Lots of fun shapes for spring and Easter. All in hopes of spreading love and the message of Christ.

I'm thinking of ways to incorporate Bible verses in the cookies, whether something printed and tied on the cookie with ribbon. Or even a label on the bag containing the cookie. Still pondering...

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