Shhhh....If you are really quiet, you can hear it. Listen closely. That wonderful sound you hear is the quiet of your home, neighborhood, grocery store, library and community center now that our milllions of children are back to school. If your ears are really good, you might even hear one particular Mom from Minnesota who's heart and breathing patterns have been calmed by 3/5. (Only three of my five are school-aged.)
Now I know most of you are probably much better parents than I am and you actually miss your kids when they go to school, but I savor every minute I have while they are gone. Especially during the hours of 1-3 pm when my preschoolers are sleeping....complete heaven!
Since today was the first day of school and having my obsession with baking, I decided to make these cookies, all 120 of them, for the teachers. I am the PTA VP so I made them on behalf of the PTA. I will be straight with you. The cookies themselves were a cinch to make and I use this recipe all the time....yummy! The decorating on the other hand......
Let me remind you before you read these directions and look at my pics that this stuff relaxes me or I would never have put so much work into them. If you enjoy it as much as I do, then give it a go and have a ball! These were a three day project.
Day One: We are the Marshall Tigers so I thought it would be cute to make paw prints on the cookies. Since I can't draw worth anything, I used clip art and placed wax paper over the top. Using melted chocolate bark, I traced the paw prints with a squeeze bottle and filled them with thinned royal icing I tinted orange. These have to sit for at least 48 hours for the royal icing to completely harden so you can carefully peel them off. Make extra because you will lose some to breakage!
Day Two: Mix up your sugar cookies and let the dough get really firm overnight in the fridge.
Day Three: Bake your cookies and decorate. I used the flooding method to frost these. I used royal icing in a decorating bag with a #4 tip and traced along the outside of the cookie. Once that had hardened, I filled a squeeze bottle with thinned royal icing and flooded the inside of the circle. Don't completely fill in with the bottle. Allow it to settle and level itself. I used a toothpick to help move it around and fill in the empty spots as well. I placed the paw prints on top when they were still wet and allowed the cookies to dry for about 4- 5 hours before I boxed them up for the schools.
Since I was short on paw prints I just drizzled my three colors over the tops of my extra cookies. Next time I use this method, I will start with the darker colors and work to lighter
Debbie's Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies (makes 3 dozen)
from Sherri Walter
1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 C sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar, then the egg until well combined then add flavorings. Add flour and baking powder to the bowl. Slowly combine until flour is mixed in, then mix well.
2. Wrap the dough completely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, at least two hours. I like to chill it overnight.
3. Divide the dough into smaller portions and roll out one portion 1/4 " thick. Keep other portions in the fridge until ready to work with it. Cut rolled dough into desired shape and bake on a parchment lined sheet for 8 minutes at 375 degrees. Allow them to cool on the pan for about five minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Frost when completely cooled.
Royal Icing (makes 3 cups)
4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tb meringue powder
6 Tb water
1. Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks, about 7 to 10 minutes. Keep tightly covered because icing dries quickly. Can be kept in the fridge for a week.
2. To thin icing for flooding, add one teaspoon of water at a time to icing until it is as thick as pancake syrup.