Archived Q&A and Reviews
I'm looking for a good recipe for holiday cookies -- the kind you roll out, cut out shapes, bake & decorate. My kids have become frustrated in the past by dough that falls apart or is too thin, cut-out cookies that scrunch up or fall apart when you transfer them to the cookie sheet, baked cookies that are so brittle they fall apart when you try to decorate them, etc. What should be a fun activity becomes stressful for all of us. I'm not concerned about flavor too much, this is almost more of an art project than a cooking project. What are your tried-and- true recipies and tips? Melinda
Find a copy of ''Joy of Cooking.'' It has a great recipe for rolled cookies that I have had great success with. Have fun! Jeanne
I just used the holiday cookie recipes in this month's (Dec.) Gourmet magazine. The basic butter cookie recipe was great - and they provide many many options for how to make holiday cookies. The icing recipe was also good. My kids had fun decorating etc., and following the instructions solved the problem of crumbly dough and tough cookies. cookie baker
Jul Pepparkakor (Swedish Christmas Spice Cookies)
- 5 1/2 oz butter
- 2 1/2 C sugar
- 1C Mork sirap (beet syrup, available from Nordic House in Oakland, the dark version is the best, buy early as they sometimes run out of it- don't substitute anything else!)
- 3/4 C water
- 1T ground cinnamon
- 1T ground ginger
- 1T ground cloves
- 1T baking soda
- 6C flour (may take a bit more)
Cream butter, sugar, and sirap Add water, spices, and baking soda Work in the flour (make it quite stiff, I knead it like bread dough to get it stiff enough- that helps to prevent sticking) Wrap in plastic and chill over night. Roll and cut. Cook 5-7 minutes at 350 and cool on a rack.
Sounds like you are looking for a ''Sugar Cookie'' recipe. I don't have my sugar cookie recipe with me right now, but here are a coupl! e of ideas. Make sure you are using the flour that the recipe asks for. Cake Flour works very differently from All Purpose Flour. If you don't get any recipes from NPN, you could go to a library (or go on line) and get a good basic recipe from a Sunset or Betty Crocker cook book (or web page). Don't roll them out very thin, and transfer them to the cookie sheet before the kids decorate them. Or, decorate them with frosting and sprinkles after they come out of the oven. An even easier and faster alternative is to buy the Pillsburry sugar cookie dough in the store, and use it to roll out and make your cookies. Sometimes the time saved and reduced stress is worth it during holidays. suzanne
We always us the ''Rich Roll Cookie'' recipe in The Joy of Cooking. It is easy & sturdy enough for decorating, but still very yummy.! bsp; I used to use a similar recipe in Fanny Farmer, but the cookies spread too much & didn't hold their shape as well. Have fun! Kathleen
The problems you mention experiencing in the past sound like a result, not of the particular recipe used, but of simply having rolled the dough out too thin. Try leaving it thicker -- a quarter inch or a little less. Also, make sure it is well chilled before you roll it; cold dough will stand up better to more handling. A baking mama
The key is chilling your dough. We bought a couple of Silpat silicon baking pads (available at Sur Le Table on 4th Street or Williams-Sonoma) and these have made all the difference. You put the dough right on the silpat and place it in the frig to chill just before baking. Here are two recipes -- not the best- tasting but the best for decorati! ng. The sugar cookies won't crumble but they are a bit more fragile than the gingerbread which is hard when baked. (We bake the walls for our gingerbread houses from this dough.)
- 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons either vanilla OR fresh lemon juice plus zest of two lemons
1. Sift the flour, baking powder & salt in large bowl. Set aside. 2. With mixer, cream butter & sugar til fluffy. Beat in eggs. 3. Add flour mixture. Mix on low until combined. Stir in vanilla or lemon. 4. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes. 5. Heat oven to 325. Roll dough to 1/8'' thick on lightly floured surface. Cut with cutters. Transfer to silpat and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake for 8 to 10, until edges are pale brown and then cool on wire racks. GINGERBREAD COOKIES 6 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed 4 teaspoons ground ginger 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 large eggs 1 cup unsulfured molasses 1. Sift flour, powder, soda in a large bowl. Set aside. 2. With mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Min in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture, combine on low speed. Divide dough into thirds, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour. 3. Heat oven to 350. Roll dough to 1/8'' thick on lightly floured surface. Cut with cutters. Transfer to silpat and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake for 8 to 10, but don't let cookies darken. Cool on wire racks.
Also see Martha By Mail for a pretty good cookie decorating kit:
This recipe is great! I found it on http://eat.epicurious.com/ and I bake them for Christmas, birthdays & whenever we need a cookie to decorate. And unlike my Mother's recipe these actually taste good. Just enter ''GINGERBREAD COOKIES AND CITRUS SUGAR COOKIES'' in the search box to get the recipe. I haven't tried the gingerbread recipe as I love my Mom's. E- mail me and I can send it to you if you are interested. There is also a lemon cutout cookie recipe that is delicious ''HANUKKAH CUTOUT COOKIES'' Happy Baking! Jeannine
Here is a recipe from my great-grandmother in Yorkshire. I used to make it when I was a child, and I make it with my kids now. It isn't too sweet. And, unlike many other cookie doughs, it can be handled a lot and re-rolled, and doesn't get stiff and awful-tasting. This is very important when baking with kids!
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon cream or evaporated milk
- < teaspoon baking soda (mixed into milk)
- 3 to 4 cups flour Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat again. Blend in vanilla, baking powder, and cream and baking soda mixture. Stir in flour, using just enough so the dough is not sticky. Stir well to blend in all flour. Roll out and cut into shapes. For a nice glaze, paint cookies with a mixture of canned evaporated mix and food colouring before baking. Bake at 325 F for 15 minutes or until golden. Don't overbake.
I just made these cookies and they came out great. My two-year-old helped me cut out shapes with his Play-Doh cookie cutters.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups unsifted flour
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla
- (1/4 tsp salt--can skip if butter is salted)
The Nov/Dec issue of Cook's Illustrated mag has an article on this very subject -- ''Easier Holiday Cookies.'' The accompanying recipe looks good and as though it will be easy to work with. I have not tried it, though. I do like the citrus Christmas cookie recipe on epicurious.com ( http://www.epicurious.com/run/recipe/view? id=103110=citrus+cookie=filtersearch=recipe- filter.hts=Recipes=recipe- results.hts=and=citrus+cookie ). The flavor is nice and it is much easier to work with than my traditional family recipe.
Whatever recipe you choose, be sure to make the dough hours in advance of when you want to actually make the cookies. Divide the dough into 3 or four sections, roll those into balls and then flatten into disks. Wrap in Saran wrap and put in the fridge for several hours. Use one at a time, and as soon as one gets a little too warm and sticky, dust it with flour and re- roll, re-flatten, re-wrap and toss it back in the fridge (or, if you will be returning to it quickly, give it a head-start on the cooling process by putting it in the freezer for a short while). Good luck and happy baking! Sarah
I forgot to mention something important when I posted my cookie recipe- a good pastry cloth and rolling pin cover are essential! If kept well-floured as you roll, they will keep the dough from sticking to the table and the rolling pin. A couple of other people said to be sure to chill the dough and this also is critical. I take the scraps left from between the cut cookies, mash them back into a ball, and rechill these smaller balls before rerolling. Cecelia
My 3 year old son loves to bake, so we bake muffins, scones or cookies at least once a week. The problem is finding relatively healthy (low fat, low sugar, healthy flours) recipes. My son really loves using cookie cutters, but most rolled cookies are really heavy on the butter and I'm kind of sick of the muffin recipes we've been using, too. Any suggestions for simple to make (too many steps and he loses interest), healthy and good- tasting cookies and muffins would be much appreciated. Thanks! Dashka
This month's Sunset magazine has a Double-Chocolate Muffins recipe which contains no butter or hydrogenated fat (only vegetable oil), whole wheat flour and banana. It does also contain some chocolate chips which you could omit. It makes a very most, tasty muffin. You can get the recipe on-line at www.sunset.com. Cecilia
Any recipe can have 1/2 the flour replaced with whole wheat flour, don't go more than that or they won't get eaten. I've had good luck with sneaking wheatgerm into oatmeal cookies - especially when I add chocolate chips! Plus the sugar can be reduced by at least 1/3. I don't try to make things lowfat as little kids need the fat. I just make the cookies small and we don't make shortbread or sugar cookies often. Sunset magazine has a good recipe for oatmeal muffins which is very flexible - I often substitute orange juice for milk and add cranberries. And again, I make the muffins small - 1/4 cup of batter each. Have fun, Lori
My kids love these muffins. I have also made them with cooked yams instead of pumpkin, sometimes I throw in grated zucchini or carrots as well.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp table salt
- 4 large egg(s)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 cups canned pumpkin
1. mix dry ingredients 2. mix wet ingredients 3. blend 4. spray muffin tins with spray oil 5. bake at 350 10-15 min.
Two more ideas popular with my baking todder:
- biscuits: not low fat, but savory (cheese/herb) or plain are great if you want to avoid sweets.
- yeast doughs: we have fun making dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc. It takes several hours total, but each step is *very* simple and short, and then the dough gets to ''take a nap'' with a blanket on, which my toddler loves. The process is very forgiving. And for something like cinnamon rolls, it is totally up to you how much butter and sugar to put between the layers, so it can be very healthy. Shaping the rolls is big fun - like play dough, only more tasty! - Charis