Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Have a heart!

You'll be happy I refrained from taking the 'after' picture of my kitchen sink with all the bowls and knives and spreaders and racks and powdered sugar and pastry bags and unused frosting! What's shown here is so much more civilized - and more appetizing!

I think this edition is going to primarily be a 'plog' (not sure that's a legit term, but I doubt I'm the first to use it for photo log). Since having to decorate the cookies AND then write about it would mean NO sleep for me!

Initialy I attempted to keep it simple with just a few colors - that idea kind of fell apart later when I got bored with the same old patterns.  But using this stuff takes a steady hand, and that I do not have.  Thankfully once they're wrapped and arranged together, they appear colorful and very 'forgiving.'

The finished product, wrapped and ready ... the cookies on the right are the "dark dough" made with molasses - and while they tasted good, I will confess that there may have been a 'miss measuring' of an ingredient or two - cause 'soft and cushiony' they definitely are not! To be honest, I'm hoping no one cracks a tooth. Note to self: do not talk on the phone while measuring ingredients.

So this is it, the 'secret family recipe' for any and all occasions requiring a cutout or decorated cookie, contrary to it's name, they are too good for a singular annual appearance.  It's originally from the 1950 edition of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (which was reprinted in it's original form a few years ago and is now widely available again today).  This recipe has been used for well over 50 years in my family.  I remember my mom making 2 or 3 double batches of 'light dough' at christmas time (but always using vanilla instead of lemon extract) and she'd be baking for days; the top of our 10 person kitchen table would not be visible through the layers and layers of cookies.  I'll confess that, while the cookies may not have looked as nice in the end, it was a lot more fun when there were 4 or 5 of us in the cookie assembly line, slapping on the frosting and then sprinkling them with colored sugar.  I also remember having strict quality control back then too, you see there were certain cookies we deemed "too ugly to serve" and to show mercy on the rest of our family we took it upon ourselves to eat them, thereby sparing the display of their hideousness.  It was a truly thankless job ...hmm, funny how it always looked like there were SO many more cookies when we started ... ;)

Here's my attempt to recreate the conversation hearts, though as shoddy as my workmanship is - they're far more readable than the little Necco hearts - I do believe that company has some quality control issues!

Speaking of which, I'll confess that the later it got, the less creative I got, and I was slacking on that 'quality control' thing myself - there were an awful lot of crooked lines and cookies with dots running around the border ...luckily for me, I didn't invoke that 'too ugly' rule.

But the bottom line is, they still taste good, and that always comes ahead of looking good when it comes to a cookie ... but hopefully there were at least a few that hit mark on both counts.

To everyone on the receiving end - Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. These were some of the BEST cookies I have ever seen...they were adorable. And yes, I meant to use past tense as they were scarfed up instantly!!

    Despite what you say, there wasn't a single "ugl cookie". Thanks again for doing this, Mary Lou!!

  2. Those cookies look awesome!! A few years ago, I was bit by the baking bug around Valentines' Day and made an attempt at being creative. I made thumbprint cookies a little bigger than usual and put them in a heart shaped cutter before I smushed my thumb in them. However, I don't think they held a candle to yours! (as always!)

    Great Job Lou Lou! ..and Happy Valentines' Day!

    Your favorite eldest niece,
    Katie ;)

  3. Thanks for calling me out Robin - about the missing ugly cookies, I have NO idea what ever could have happened to them! ;)

    Thanks Katie - since you're off all week, maybe you should come over and help me?! Hmmm? And these aren't much harder than poking your thumb in a cookie - just lines & dots (and a little bit of patience!) ...

  4. Lou,
    Making Christmas cookies for Valentines! How "Calendar Challenged" can you get! Those cookies still bring back a flood of memories.

    Yes, we all decorated them, and there were always a higher count of the unfrosted than the finished frosted. Of course, before the kitchen remodel, when the Christmas cookies were stored in the "Back Shed", in a locked broom closet, the padlocked door was always a challenge. But being clever, we discovered that the pad lock had a high hasp, and the door being made of old pine from the renovated fruit cellar, it was an easy "pull and grab", enabling the joy of a pilfered cookie treat. The Lebkuken were always stored in a an old large tin, that was originally used for pitted, purchased cherries. Those cookies had to be allowed to age, and they were much harder to get at, as going in from the bottom, pulling door open, and getting your arm in there and taking off the can's lid, made the task difficult at best. But the large square tin housing the Christmas cutouts was an easy grab, and one only had to make sure the waxed paper didn't arouse any suspicious activity.

    The cookies had originally called for lemon extract, but Aunt Mary in the first few years, stated she didn't care for the lemon, so Gladys in future years, substituted vanilla for the lemon. In later years, when Aunt Mary was visiting good ol' 79, there were cookies made from the Original recipe.
    "These are good, Gladys" Mary said. Later, Mom recounted the incident and just shook her head. But we all loved the vanilla!


  5. Sooooo just an FYI, I did not purposely avoid your comment, I ended up with the 2010 PLAGUE for my entire week off in February. How "lucky" am I??