Saturday, January 22, 2011

Constant craving: Iced cream cheese sugar cookies.

It's been way longer than I intended since my last post. But life, day jobs and blizzards sometimes intrude and what are you going to do? Make cookies, I say.

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and in fact there are holidays all year long that beckon us to dig through our recipes for a way to celebrate that's not only tasty, but kinda cute. Of course, we've all been victims of those beautifully adorned but utterly bland celebratory desserts and those experiences (plus the fact that some of our formerly enthusiastic toddlers are now 6 feet tall) caused us to put away our cookie cutters.

But maybe you're like me and some days you just want something adorable on your plate and you want it to taste darn good with your favorite cup of tea. And maybe you want it to be pretty and tempting enough to share with say, your fellow cube farmers, or maybe you still know some first-graders who appreciate your skills. What you need is the recipe I'm about to divulge, the much-tested, now published (on the first page of the first cookbook I ever edited), go-to cookie that my kids always loved to make. There's cream cheese in the dough that gives them actual flavor in addition to the almond and vanilla. They're simple, fool-proof and if you're typing away at 2 a.m., are perfect with whatever you're drinking.

Tyler and Laura's cream cheese sugar cookies:

1 C sugar
1C butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk, reserving egg white to decorate
2 C plain flour

Preheat oven to 375. In large bowl, use mixer to cream butter with sugar, then cream cheese. Add next 4 ingredients, blending well, then add flour and mix until incorporated. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, which really makes them easy to work with. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough, one-third at a time, to desired thickness, and cut into shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Depending on the size of your cookies, this recipe makes 4 dozen or so.

Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet (they will spread a tad). Leave plain or brush with egg white and sprinkle on colored sugar, or paint with a mixture of 1 beaten egg yolk and 1/4 tsp of water and food coloring for "stained glass" effect. Bake 10 minutes or so, depending on your oven, until they begin to brown lightly at the edges. Cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to rack.

As you can see, I like to frost mine with this simple, glossy ice:
Mix 2 C powdered sugar and 6 tsp. milk (adjust for your desired consistency), then add 4 tsp. of light corn syrup and food coloring.


Save some white icing and thicken a bit to pipe dots, stripes or whatever you like on the iced cookies.

I found the pink boxes below at our local Michael's store and packed up some cookies for the couple next door who welcomed a new baby girl into their hearts this week. Before they know it, she'll be wanting to drag out the cookie cutters to bake some shapes of her own.

Thought I'd show off these last lovelies on the plate I received from my brother and his sweetie for Christmas. I think they might just be for the baker...