Before I became a writer by trade, I spent nearly 20 years as a cake decorator. I spent a lot of time with multicolored hands. Once, I even found icing in my ear while I was out shopping at Kohl’s.
Each year, when the holidays rolled around, I turned into a veritable hurricane, making 15 or so different kinds of cookies. My cookie trays were beautiful. Perfection was my goal, and I came pretty darn close.
Since becoming a mom, things always seem a little hurried. And harried. And kitchen successes are fewer these days. I just don’t have the time, or the energy, or the luxury of undivided concentration that I used to have.
But you know what I do have? A happy little helper that gets so excited over mixing sprinkles, which I try not to get bent out of shape about…
and shaping dough balls…
and having cookies of his very own that he can share with everyone.
It’s a new kind of perfection, and it’s definitely an improvement (and now he’s usually the one with icing in his ear!)
Luckily, I also have baking supplies from King Arthur Flour this season! From their time-saving self-rising flour that just makes recipes easier to their lovely sparkling sugar, snowflake sprinkles and chocolate “jimmies” that let us create a winter wonderland of fun, fancy cookies without the use of any artificial dyes, King Arthur Flour is our go-to for quality baking supplies.
Here’s the recipe we used for our first cookies of the season, and it couldn’t be easier or more perfect for baking with kids. The mellow protein level of King Arthur Flour’s new self-rising flour makes them light and crunchy, but you can achieve a softer cookies with just a slightly shorter baking time (bake for a scant 8 minutes.) The sprinkles we used were perfect not only because they didn’t contain yucky dyes, but because they didn’t melt in the oven during baking.
Isn’t it amazing how just a few ingredients and a few minutes can add up to so many wonderful holiday memories?
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or 1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar, to garnish
1) Beat together the vegetable shortening or butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.
2) Mix in the egg, then the flour. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then mix again, until thoroughly combined.
3) Chill the dough for 30 minutes or longer, to make it less sticky and easier to work with.
4) Near the end of the chilling period, preheat the oven to 375°F.
5) Grease or line with parchment two baking sheets.
6) Place 1/4 cup granulated or coarse white sparkling sugar in a bowl.
7) Use a cookie scoop or a spoon to make 1″ to 1 1/2″ balls. Drop them into the sugar, then place the balls sugar side up onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2″ between cookies; they?ll spread as they bake.
8) Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. The cookies will puff up and look soft, but they?ll fall and become crisp/crunchy as they cool.
9) Remove the cookies from the oven. Let them rest on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Store well-wrapped cookies at room temperature for a week or so; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: 4 dozen cookies.