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!
Here goes, a very blatant rip off of the Julie/Julia project - but without the daily study and committment and hopefully far less butter and cream!
For the 52 weeks of 2010 I'm going to bake a batch (or two) of cookies each week and provide them to various local charities and residential non-profits. It's a bit self serving - I get to do what I love - baking - and then get to avoid what I love a bit too much - eating! It's a near ideal scenario for me. Hopefully along the way I'll get to meet some great people, test out some new recipes and broaden my baking and presentation techniques. I'll continue to tweak recipes to improve the nutritional value and then I'll give them away, to who, exactly, I'm not so sure just yet but I'm working on it.
Life gets busy, but to spend an hour or two week to throw together a batch of homemade cookies to give to folks that might be going through a hard time seems like a pretty small contribution to society but maybe, just maybe, it'll change the world, one batch at a time ... to be continued ...