Friday, August 03, 2007

Sugar Cookies

My dining room table is covered with heart shaped sugar cookies and I am so relieved they are done. I despise making sugar cookies. Ironically, I love to eat them - but not enough to make them. I think the last time I made them was for last year's tea.

I was once involved with someone who loved them and I made them for him many, many, many times. I don't think he ever fully appreciated what a symbol of love that was.

Also ironic - I've always been on the lookout for the perfect sugar cookie recipe. I have three that I really like - Nan's, Mary Ann's, and Shirley's. I have others that I've never tried but that I've gathered because one day I might want to make them. Because, as we've already covered, I like to make them so much.

The one I used this time is Nan's because the recipe doesn't call for any milk. I don't drink milk, so I didn't have any in the house, and didn't want to go get any.

The trick with sugar cookies is you want one that's going to hold its shape and yet be tender. In reality, this has more to do with things other than the recipe. Of course, no one ever told me that, so I had to discover it through trial and error, cookbooks, the food network, or some other place. I can't even tell you exactly how I gained this knowledge, but I'm going to share it.

1. If you want the cookies to hold their shape they have to be COLD. Keep the dough cold before you roll it out. After you cut the cookies out and put them on the sheet, put it back in the fridge to chill before you bake them. Voila! (By the way, Voila! is a French word and means "There you go!" or something similar. There really isn't a perfect translation. But it is not spelled "walla" as I sometimes see it. That's one of my pet peeves. "Walla" in English is a second spelling of the word "wallah" that refers to a person who's essential in an organization, or works in a particular field. "Walla" is not a word in French as far as I know. Walla Walla is a city in Washington. Other than those instances, don't write "walla" when you really mean "voila". I also sometimes see it spelled, "wahlah," which is not a word in either language as far as I know - nor is "wahla.") OK, I got that off my chest... moving on...

2. What makes the cookie tough is overworking the dough. What that really means in this case is that when you pick up the bits and pieces and reroll them again and again it eventually gets tough - partially because of the added flour.

The same rules apply to pie crust. Maybe I just applied it to cookies from pie crusts - maybe that's how I learned it. Whatever the case - those two things work.

Today I got some of the shopping done for more cooking this weekend. I'll be cooking. Then cooking some more. To be followed by some cooking. Does my life seem dull? Well, imagine how it feels to be living it.

OK... just because I'm so nice... I'm going to share Nan's Sugar Cookie Recipe. She and I made these together one year before Valentine's Day and she sent some to the man she was dating at the time. He proposed a few months later. He, obviously, understood what an indication of true love a batch of sugar cookies is - unlike the man I was with. I'm not saying it was necessarily the cookies... I'm just saying they're good.

Nan's Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

I double this recipe often. These will freeze well, if any survive long enough for that.

OK... go forth and bake!

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