Cookies are really more of a christmas thing for most people, but for us we bake and ice them year round. My husband collects cookie cutters and he has little boxes of cutters for every season. As we are heading toward Valentine’s day that will likely be the next holiday we bake for. These particular pictures are from Thanksgiving two years ago.
Barnes Family Sugar Cookies
3 1/2 cup flour (all purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp vanilla
We use real shortening from Spectrum Organics with no trans fats, available from Whole Foods. Here is their website with nutritional information. In the 1930’s-50’s when this recipe was formulated it was before the age of Crisco and this is the closest to what they would have really used. It makes a huge difference in texture of the cookie. They turn out amazingly light and crisp whereas with Crisco or butter you get a lot heavier texture. Not to mention Crisco is something you really don’t want to put in your body if you can help it. You do have to throw out the shortening and replace it about once a year because it has a more limited shelf life than Crisco, but it is well worth it.
Remove all ingredients from the refigerator and allow to come to room temperature. This is especially important to create the right cookie texture and a dough that is easy to work with. Preheat your oven to 350°. Combine the Flour, salt and Baking Powder and sift into a large bowl. (Yes I know sifting is a real pain, but trust me it makes a difference.) Cream the shortening and sugar together in another bowl and then slowly add the eggs, vanilla, and flour mixture. Carefully blend each ingredient in before adding the next. Chill the dough for about 1 hour before rolling. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness on a marble slab or floured surface. (Be careful of adding to much extra flour or the dough will be stiff.) Cut shapes from the dough and transfer to cookie sheets with a metal spatula. (We prefer Airbake cookie sheets because we find they give the most consistent results. Find them here from Bed, Bath and Beyond.) Then bake the cookies at 350° for 10-15 minutes. Cookies are done when they just begin to turn gold around the edges. It helps to add some little scraps of dough onto the cookie sheets because they will brown faster than the regular cookies and show a better indication of doneness. (Not to mention giving you something to munch on when the cookies come out.)
Mix all the icing ingredients together until it makes a smooth runny soup. Split up into small bowls and add food coloring. While the icing is wet it will be runny and once it dries it will be hard. While wet you can use a knife to combine different colors of icing for water color or marbled effects. You can also add sprinkles or candies to the wet icing which will adhere when the icing dries. Over the course of working the icing will begin to dry in the bowl. If this happens just add more water until it becomes spreadable again.