Showing posts with label sugar cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sugar cookies. Show all posts

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Cookie fun with kids # Giveaway #recipe #Christmas #mystery


Around here, we're all in the mood for Christmas and we hope you are too.

We love Christmas cookies! It gives us an excuse to break out the festive cookie cutters and to get flour all over ourselves and the kitchen.  This year, MJ was lucky enough to have a young relative helping out.  You can see that Teagan did all the heavy lifting!

MJ here:  I picked the sugar cookies I remember from my own childhood.   I remember sugar sparkles on those cookies and so a quick trip yielded just what I needed.   I know red and green are favorite Christmas colors but Teagan and I decided that blue, white and silver were just right. 

Why don't you join us in the kitchen when we make these very easy Christmas sugar cookies?  We’d offer you one, but they were gone in a twinkle!

Christmas Sugar Cookies

 You will need:
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature, well beaten in a small bowl
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp good quality vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional - but we always do it!)

All you have to do:
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy in stand mixer (or whatever works for you).  Add beaten eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, soda, and cream of tartar, mixing to blend.

Add dry mixture to wet and mix just until blended. Don’t overbeat.

If you have time, roll the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill the dough for 20 minutes before rolling out.  It is very soft.

Roll out on floured surface and roll with floured rolling pin until about ¼ inch think.  They will puff up slightly, so don’t roll too thick. 

Cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters.   

Teagan liked the trees best. MJ just couldn’t decide between stars and snowflakes.   

Transfer to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. They spread quite a bit so keep it to six per sheet, or they will run into each other.  I learned this the hard way and had to eat quite a few and then start again. Ahem. Dust each cookie with a bit of colored course sugar.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove and cool.  Makes about two dozen. Guard them well, because they have a tendency to disappear.

Of course you know that Victoria Abbott is a dangerous combo of Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter, Victoria.  When not busy being elves, they write the book collector mysteries, with a bit of help from Peachy the Pug. 

We all hope you all have a wonderful December full of sweet tastes and warm moments and entertaining books.  So from our family to yours, have the best of festive seasons, whatever you celebrate. 

Speaking of, why not tell us about how, what or if you celebrate and your name may be drawn to receive a copy of the book collector mystery of your choice!  If you have them all, we'll still find a deal for you.   Because it's that season!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Great Sugar Cookie Adventure

To me, sugar cookies are part of Christmas. My mom always made them, though (shh, don't tell her) they were never my favorites. She topped them with an egg wash and a sprinkling of nonpareils. The egg wash made them shiny and yellow, which just never appealed to me.

Many years ago, I went in search of a sugar cookie recipe that I liked. I tried all kinds of recipes. With sour cream, with lemon, with various extracts, but none were to my liking, so I made up my own recipe and liked it a lot.

But in recent years, that recipe has been giving me fits, so I went on another search for a recipe. Tada! I found one that claimed to be the best sugar cookie recipe. And it was almost exactly like mine! There were 3 differences in ingredients. They used lemon and almond flavorings, which I knew I didn't want. (I'm a purist about sugar cookies.) But there was one extra ingredient that I hadn't considered: 2 ounces of cream cheese!

There was also a little twist on refrigerating the dough that I had seen and used before but had forgotten about. Oh my gosh. It worked beautifully and made cleanup so easy! You roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and then refrigerate. It's a beautiful plan because you don't need any extra flour. And you since you work on the parchment paper, in the end you just wad it up and throw it away. No mess!

When you plan to bake these, take the butter out of the fridge to soften way ahead of time. If you forget, then cut each stick of butter into small cubes to speed up the softening process. 

Now, about that pesky icing. I have never had any success with outlining the cookie and then "flooding" it with icing. (Sigh.) So I read a few blogs about it and it seems like everyone does basically the same thing. So I tried.

Warning: do not plan to do this on a busy day. Don't think you can run home from work and ice the cookies for your kid's event that night. This is a lazy day project that took me hours. It's sort of addictive, actually.

When I was shopping earlier this year, I bought a bunch of sprinkles in anticipation of making these cookies. So I didn't use five different colors of icing. I took the lazy way out, used only white icing, and let the sprinkles bring the color to the cookies. For some reason, I was in a white and gold mood, so I made a lot of those and just a few red ones for friends who will like them.

But Krista, you say, where are Santa and Frosty? Hmm, good question. I'm planning to take some of these to the vet clinic where I spend way too much time and all of my money, but I think it goes to show that almost any cookie shape can add fun to the holidays? That's my theory anyway!

Sugar Cookies

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened
2 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Take the butter out to soften.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set it aside.

Cream the butter with the cream cheese until blended. Add the sugar and continue beating. Add the egg and beat. Add the vanilla and beat. On a low speed, add the flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time. When the flour is in, beat to mix.

Divide the dough in 2 and make two balls out of it. Lay one ball on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll out the dough. Don't go too thin or the cookies will be difficult to handle. 1/4 inch is about right. Repeat with the second ball of dough. Place both on a flat tray and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 and cover a cookie baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove one sheet of dough from the fridge. Cut out your cookies and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 8 - 12 minutes depending on thickness of the cookies. Roll the scraps into a ball, place between the pieces of parchment paper and roll out again. Place in fridge while you use the other sheet of dough. Repeat until all dough has been used.

Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a baking rack to cool. When cool you can ice the cookies or stack them in an airtight container and ice them the next day.

Sugar Cookie Icing

2 cups powdered sugar, plus extra
3 tablespoons milk, plus extra
1 teaspoon vanilla
warm water (1-2 teaspoons as necessary)
sugar pearls, nonpareils, sprinkles, colored sugar


Wilton number 2 tip
Condiment dispenser bottle or Wilton number 4 tip
toothpick or bamboo skewer
1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon

Step One

The objective is to make two thicknesses of the same icing. One will be used to outline the cookie and the other will be used to flood the top of the cookie.

Place the powdered sugar in the mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons milk. Mix. Add one more tablespoon of milk. It should now be almost usable. If it's too dry, add 1/2 teaspoon warm water and mix. It should hold its shape but be soft enough to push through the number 2 tip. Fit a disposable icing bag with the number 2 tip and add a little of the icing. If you find it's too thick to push through comfortably, add drops of the water and mix again.

The best thing to do is experiment a little first. I found it easiest to hold the tip about 1/2 inch above the cookie. The tiny thread of icing will follow. If you mess up, don't worry, You can wipe it off with a paper towel and start over.

When finished, set aside to dry for a short time before going to the second step.

Step Two

If you need more icing than is left, add another cup of powdered sugar. Either way, add another tablespoon of milk to the icing in the bowl. Mix and add 1/2 teaspoon of warm water at a time, mixing after each addition. After several attempts, I can tell you that it's easiest if the icing consistency is a little runny. I found it easier to use a squeeze bottle than a tip for this step. Fill the bottle or the pastry bag fitted with number 4 tip. Follow the general shape of the cookie as you squeeze and add a dot to any tiny areas, like a dog's tail. Use the toothpick or bamboo skewer to spread, and to push the icing to the edges and into small areas.

If you plan to use pearls, nonpareils, or sugar, use them now before the icing dries. Use the tweezers to place the pearls. I found I had more control over the sugar if I put it into a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon and used the tweesers to knock out as much as I wanted to use over the cookie. When finished, place in a cool area to harden overnight and up to 24 hours (this will depend on the temperature, humidity, and on the thickness of the icing). Store in an airtight container with parchment paper between the cookies.

Cut the butter into cubes to help it soften faster

The dough will have a nice consistency.

Make 2 balls out of the dough.

Roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper.
Refrigerate flat.
Place on parchment covered baking sheet to bake.
Fun decorating items!
Cool before icing.
Use the icing to outline each cookie.
Be sure to get those cute angles.
Use the thinner icing to flood the cookie. Here I have squeezed some out.
On the right side, I have helped the icing spread with a bamboo skewer. Note that the left side isn't perfect!

It's a golden Christmas!

Not a creature was stirring, not even the moose.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Make Cuban Sugar Cookies (Torticas de Moron) and Cuban Coffee by Cleo Coyle

Today marks the 112th anniversary of Cuba’s independence from Spain (May 20, 1902), a great excuse to celebrate Cuban cuisine with a popular cookie and, of course, Cuban coffee!

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.
Cleo Coyle’s
"Torticas de Morón"

Cuban Sugar Cookies

Torticas de Morón are melt-in-your mouth sugar-sprinkled shortbread cookies with a hint of lime (or lemon). They are fantastic with coffee, especially strong Cuban coffee. They also make lovely tea cakes.

The cookies were originally created in the city of Morón in central Cuba. Bakers have produced many variations. 
Some use eggs, some do not. Some add flavorings like vanilla and rum. Others even add a dab of chocolate or guava jelly to the center like a thumbprint cookie. 

In my version, I’m keeping things simple to preserve the character of the basic shortbread with a hint of citrus. I also do something special with the shortening (more on that in the recipe below.)

Note: The final addition of egg white on top of each cookie is something I learned from a Cuban-American baker and it's a step I highly recommend. Not only does the egg wash help keep the cookies from crumbling, it allows the sugar to adhere to the cookies while baking. And if you sample the cookies while still warm, you'll notice the egg wash brings a slightly chewy texture to the top surfaces, which makes a fantastic contrast you'll fully appreciate as you sink your teeth into these crumbly, melt-in-your mouth treats. 

Now let's start baking!
 ~ Cleo

For a free PDF of this recipe (with step-by-step photos) that you can print, save, or share, click here

Click here for PDF.

Makes about
2 dozen cookies                                              


2-1/3 cups all-purpose white flour
1-1/2 teaspoon lime or lemon zest (grated skin of fruit, no white pith)
1 cup white, granulated sugar (+ extra for topping)
1 cup shortening (see my note*)
1 large egg (divided into yolk and white)

*Cleo note: Shortening can be butter or lard or a combination. Many recipes use 100% butter. Be sure to use salted butter because with so little liquid in this recipe, the salt needs to be distributed via the butter. In my version of this cookie, I use ½ salted butter and ½ virgin coconut oil (chilled to give it solid form). Coconut is a popular flavor in Cuban cuisine and the coconut oil lends a lovely light hint of coconut to the shortbread. I highly recommend this combo, it’s delicious! For more info on coconut oil—what it is and which kind you should buy, read my past recipe post on Chocolate Ricotta Muffins by clicking here.


(1) Make and chill dough: Whisk together the flour and lime zest. Set aside. Now you’ll work with the shortening. Make sure your butter is softened and/or your coconut oil is solid. Add the sugar. Using an electric mixture, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk (save the white for the next step). Beat with mixer until the egg is blended in. Now add the flour-lime mixture, a few tablespoons at a time. 

Beat until incorporated and then add more until all the flour is well blended into the dough. Use your hands to squeeze together dough pieces. Knead a little, working with the dough until it’s smooth and form it into a ball. 

Turn the dough onto a parchment paper covered surface and work with the dough, shaping it into a thick cylinder of 2-inches in diameter. To get the log nice and smooth as shown, use the parchment paper to help roll it. 

Now roll up the dough cylinder in the parchment paper and place it in the refrigerator, chilling for at least 30 minutes. If you want to chill it longer (overnight or one or two days, wrap it tightly in plastic).

(2) Slice, top, and bake: Traditionally, the thickness of the cookie should be about 1 centimeter (a little less than ½ inch). So slice up the log and place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. 

Fork-whisk the egg white with a few drops of water. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash and finish with a sprinkling of sugar. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 300°F for about 30 minutes (check them at 25). Finished cookies should be cooked through the center but still mostly cream-colored on the surface with light browning around the top edges and bottoms. 

Care for some Cuban coffee 

with your Cuban cookies? 

Here's a little video (featured on my website) that will show you how to make it. My husband and I often make Cuban coffee with our stovetop espresso maker. It's a delicious treat. 



For a free PDF of this recipe,
click here. Now...

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Eat (and read) with joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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* Dairy-Free Almond Milk Custard
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Haunted Bookshop 

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