Monday, November 26, 2007
Visions of Sugar Cookies
The good news is, my Thanksgiving Day coconut cake with lemon cream filling turned out great! (Thank you, Southern Living.) The bad news is, my weekend attempt at making Madeleines, those classic, scallop-shaped teatime treats, was another colossal failure. The good news is, during the six or seven hours total I spent with the Madeleines -- it takes a while to butter a pan and freeze it three times before baking -- I had time to read and absorb the great new book "Cookie Craft" by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer.
Most of us who bake have our specialties. I'm good with cakes and bar cookies, not so good with pies and sugar cookies. I predict this is going to change. All my baking life I have dreamed of making delicious and perfectly formed sugar cookies perfectly decorated with royal icing. My cookies have almost always spread, and decor-wise, I never had much success with anything but colored sugar sprinkles. Thanks to "Cookie Craft," visions of teacup- and teapot-shaped sugar cookies are now dancing in my head. Wouldn't these be cute in red and green as Christmas gifts?
And speaking of Christmas, aren't their Christmas cookies just gorgeous? Reading this book was a lot of fun, because it told me about some cookie-baking tricks I'd never heard of before, and the authors kindly share some of the mistakes they've made over the years. (One baked candy corn to represent "tailfeathers" on a turkey-shaped sugar cookie, and the candies basically exploded.) There are four basic sugar cookie recipes the authors recommend, and they include a helpful list of needed (and blessedly inexpensive) items for baking the cookies, as well as a list of resources for finding specialty items and hundreds of new cookie cutters. I still want to master the Madeleine (I'm now convinced I began with a bum recipe), but next up: the sugar cookie!