Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sweetest Sugar Cookies On the Planet

I don't love making sugar cookies. Pulling everything out of the cupboards, mixing it together, trashing the kitchen by sprinkling flour all over the counter, rolling the dough out, and you still have to decorate them or, really, why bother with making them at all because nobody gets excited over pale, undecorated sugar cookies, and even when I do decorate them Santas usually end up with running eyes, and bunny ears aren't usually very recognizable, so the whole process is not something I love.

Here's how to make it a super-sweet experience, and you don't have to eat a single bite. Have a two year old be your helper, or actually anyone 12 or under would probably do. (By age thirteen save yourself all the work and drive them to the nearest Sonic.) Put your old apron on them, snuggling it up under their little arms, and tie a bow in the back, regardless of whether they are male or female. A male with a bow is actually even cuter. Pause for just a moment here to take a longer look, at the dimples on their elbows, at how soft their cheeks are, at the sticky-up parts of their hair, or the little curls coming down their neck. You're going to want to remember these parts so look for a moment longer, to store up for someday.

Let them do everything. The goal is not edible cookies, so let them scoop and pour and scrape and crack and stir. Who cares if you put in 3 cups of flour or 2 3/4 or 3 1/4? Good enough is good enough! Little ones love to crack eggs. Put your big hand over their tiny hand, with the still cold from the fridge egg nestled underneath, and then gently crack it against the counter. Let them pull it apart and dump it into a little bowl. Sometimes I have to use a part of the shell to remove the bits of egg shell in the bowl, and then I let them plop it in the big mixing bowl. Or you can let them pull it apart over the big mixing bowl to start if you like roughage in your sugar cookies. It's entirely up to you. You might also have a few extra eggs on hand for those who tend to tap a bit harder!

Let them eat all the dough they want. I don't know anyone who has ever died of eating cookie dough. (And PALEEEZE don't tell me if you do....) Some risks are worth taking and this is one of them. It's not like we're bungy jumping off the top of the house or anything. I remember when our Brownie troop was making Christmas cookies at our house, and Esterina's mother just about blew a gasket because she took a bite of cookie dough. She got threatened with her life if she touched another deadly bite, and we all stood around feeling bad for her. So let them eat the dough. Nobody else in the troop dropped dead the next day.

After you mix up the dough, sprinkle flour all over the counter, dump out the dough, get a basic circle going, then hand them the rolling pin.

It weighs a lot to a little kid and again is such fun to watch them try to handle it. Landon decided to whack at it rather than roll. I love seeing how little he is now, and knowing how big he's going to be someday!

Don't you just love seeing the effort on his face? He rolled with all he was worth. We chose pumpkin cookie cutters. He didn't love this part - told me his 'hand howut' from me pressing down on his. We threw the cookies on a sheet, then I brushed them with water and handed him the sprinkles and the fun began!

His mama believed he baked them himself when she saw the 1" high piles of sprinkles on the cookies. The spoon didn't work so slick so he used his who knows where they'd been last spotless hands. (He got his dinosaur cast off just yesterday and still doesn't quite know what to do with that arm.) Do you see that crease at his wrist? I love that part, where the baby fat sort of settles before his dimply little hand starts.

More sprinkles are better, don't you think? We did.

I put the sheets in the oven, and let him peek now and then to see them cooking. As they came out he said, 'hot hot' and I said, 'yes' and we let them cool on the counter. As soon as they were cooled off, I let him choose whichever one he wanted, and he was quite pleased with himself. We got 18 cookies out of two sticks of butter, I sent half of them home with him on a paper plate, and a good dose of the sweetness was watching him show his 'tookies' to his mamma, the ones he made himself. 'My do it' he told her.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to borrow a little kid and bake some yourself. I like these because they are easy to mix (so you can have little helpers) and they don't need to chill before you roll them out. They handle well from the counter to the cookie sheet and actually taste good. Smaller cutters would have made a bigger batch, but bigger is easier for little hands to decorate.

Roll Out Sugar Cookies:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Dough will be very stiff and you may need to add 1 - 2 tablespoons of water. Do NOT chill dough. Roll dough out thinner than the cookie cutter of choice. Dip cutter in flour, cut cookie and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6-7 minutes. Remove to cooling rack then enjoy, preferably with the little person who was your helper! Baking regular sugar cookies? Not so much. Baking cookies with little people? Absolutely the sweetest way to spend a day!

PS Take whatever dough is leftover and put it in a platform bird feeder. The birds will love the energy rich treat, and the kids will have fun watching them feast. That's our lump of raw, leftover dough at the end of the row of cookies.


Gretchen said...

Forget the tookies! I could eat HIM up. So fun.

Oh, I've got my eye on that grandma ball, baby!

BTW, we always called them "rubberband" hands and feet--because it looks like there's rubberband causing the crease of delicious baby-fatty goodness on their hands and feet.

Robin said...

So sweet! I can't wait until my little grandbabies are big enough to bake tookies with! No - I can wait - they are already growing too fast.

Barb said...

He's definitely going to be BIG if he takes after his daddy. Could he possibly be any cuter, especially in that aprong? I don't think so.

I had no idea you could give the leftover dough to the birds. My own doves and sparrows thank you for that information!

Barb said...

Aprong. Good grief.

Deidre said...

Bev, you are reading my mind today!! I have never made sugar cookies from scratch but my girls are begging me. I went this morning to buy a pumpkin cookie cutter, then realized I didn't even have a recipe so THANK YOU!

I agree that the BEST cookies are the ones they make themselves. I love when mine make a cake and just lick the frosting right off the cake while still putting it on (you may not want to ever eat a cake at my house). Still, the girls LOVE to do it and I always look at the mess and know there will be a day when they won't want to cook with their Mama.

I love the pictures - Landon is getting so big - my word! He's such a cutie!

Beck said...

What a great suggestion for all of that unusable dough! And your grandbaby is ADORABLE - and so helpful!

Becky said...

Ha! I love Gretchen's comment.

I was going to say that is a sure fired recipe for a great memory. I just love this. Thanks for sharing it.

Betty said...

Aren´t you just the sweetest grandmama! I loved this and can´t wait to do it with my grandkids someday!

Kelli said...

Is it too scary that my teens still make that kind of mess when they bake?

I have to say this is the BEST post I've read in a long time.

I'm smiling from ear to ear.

Renna said...

What a delightful story! Won't you love showing him those pictures when he's about sixteen? He'll know how much his granny loved him, that's for sure! ;-)

Kelly said...

Sweet cookies.

Sweeter memories.

the voice of melody said...

I agree, little helpers are great in the kichen (love the apron on him!).

When my 6-year-old son was a bit younger, he'd love to make "flour mountains" right on the counter! The mess is part of the experience and that's ok.

And that cookie dough? Who can resist!


dianne - bunny trails said...

That's so precious! I wish I had been more free like that when my boys were little. Nope - I was big old control freak. What a wonderful memory!! So sweet.