Friday, December 19, 2008

XMas sugar cookies

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
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Christmas is around the corner, for those of you who have been living in a cave it's this coming Wednesday!
I accomplished a big step today: finished wrapping my gifts. So I deserve a sweet treat, don't I ? :-)
In the USA, ladies tend to organize Christmas cookies exchange parties. Americans love their cookies and at XMas time host has to have different varieties of cookies to offer. But in this busy period even a well organize, polished perfect-host (a Martha Stewart look-a-like if you prefer) won't have enough time to bake 5 to 6 varieties of cookies. So US housewives created the cookie swap concept. Really simple and ingenuous: you invite your girlfriends over for tea and they all bring a big batch of 1 variety of cookies. Batches are divided between all the attending ladies. Smart! Who said US housewives are desperate? :-)



Here in my new home (Luxembourg area) almost all my girlfriends have left for the Holidays to their countries, so I couldn't organize a cookie swap.
We did bake some Christmas sugar cookies at home. I must say their decoration was a lot of fun!

Sugar cookies dough:
Ingredients:
-1 stick of butter at room temperature
-1/2 cup of powdered sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1cup 3/4 of all purpose flour
-2 tbsp of water
(can be flavored with vanilla extract)

Directions:
Note: dough has to be prepared at least 2h in advance, the day before is even better.
1- Carefully whisk together with a wooden spoon the smooth butter cut into slices, the sugar. Incorporate the yolks. (I don't have a stand-mixer, but you can as well work with one of those beauties at low speed).
2- When all the elements are mixed together, slowly add the flour. Work with your hand to form a uniform, smooth dough.
3- Add the water, and form with your hand a ball.
4- Refrigerate, cover with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours
5- Preheat your oven at 350F. Line baking sheets with non sticky baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
6- Transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch (4 mm) thickness.
7- Cut it with your favorite cookie cutters (or a glass if you don't own any cookie cutters). Leftover dough can roll over and over, to cut more cookies.
8- Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 min until slightly golden.
9- Place them on a cooling rack.

Icing:
Ingredients:
-food coloring
-powdered sugar
-lemon juice or water
-sugar decorations
Directions:
1- Combine 2 tbsp of powdered sugar with 2 to 3 lemon juice drops (can be replace by water if you don't have lemon juice or if you don't want the lemony taste). Add 2 to 3 food coloring drops.
Note: open and close the food coloring tubes away from you, splashes can happen ...
2- Spread the icing, with a teaspoon, on cooled cookies.
3- Add any decorations you want (before the icing dries).

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