Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis the Season...

...for baking cookies. Turn on a Christmas CD, plug in the lights on the Christmas tree, and heat up the oven. On Thursday I started preparing for our girls night in that was to happen at our house on Friday night. While the guys were next door at the neighbor's playing video games, the girls were going to decorate sugar cookies and watch Christmas movies. I had visions of light, fluffy sugar cookies decorated in red, green, and other festive colors, sparkling with sprinkles and mini M&Ms forming the eyes of cute, little gingerbread men. Ah, the vision before the reality.

My ready and willing friend Gizelle showed up on Thursday to tackle the task of making these sugary confections. The plan was to mix, refrigerate, lunch, bake. So, we mixed quadruple the batch from a recipe that I was sure would mimic the amazing sugar cookies my friend Kerri's mom made for each and every holiday as we were growing up. I was sure this would make plenty of cookies, enough for the girls to decorate, give away, and even some for us to keep.

Flour flew and the dough was mixed, stored in the fridge, and off to lunch we went. We also hit up the IGA for a few extra supplies, and headed home to roll it out and do the fun part - cut it into holiday shapes. The shapes may have been fun, the cutting out, not so much.

As I knew was important with sugar cookie dough, it must be kept cold in order for it to work well. You must also work quickly. Very quickly. Once we pulled the dough from the refrigerator it soon become apparent that our dough was still sticky. Time to resort to Google. Any tips for cutting out sugar cookies? Of course! Parchment paper! Flour it! Roll it out and then put it back into the fridge! This is what we did. I was sure I could take it from there, later on that evening, so Gizelle headed home and I took a rest.

"Taking it from there" was a lot easier said than done. Sparing some details and introducing some new dough and the freezer, as well as some more help that evening, hours later the dough was smashed (not rolled - I found my hands worked MUCH better) out, cut out, and baked. With three of us working including Allison and Sabian "the oven master" Chaney, we had a pile of Christmas trees, snowflakes, stars, hearts, and gingerbread men ready for decorating on Friday.

I never think there will be enough. I always over cook or over bake, but I thought for sure the holiday fever would catch and there would be a frenzy of decorating going on. I could rest easier when the cookies were stored safely away until Friday night, with only a few tips of the stars broken off and a couple of gingerbread men casualties. The next day I dove into the much easier task of making the icing and had everything ready to go when the girls arrived Friday night.

Icing in five colors, sprinkles in all shades, glitter gel tubes, and the M&Ms anxiously awaited their destiny. Since I don't have pictures, just imagine a group of girls sitting around the table and unleashing their creativity on the blank canvas of a sugar cookie. I encouraged them to take the cookies home to their families or to think of others whose day might be brightened by receiving a cookie lovingly decorated by them. Since I am paranoid about having too little when it comes to food, we had plenty of undecorated cookies left over, many of which I finished decorating the next day and dropped off at church for the children's Christmas play practice. I trust they all found good homes.

Just a few of the finished products:

We had a good time and I certainly learned my lesson when it comes to sugar cookies - forget the rolling pin and recruit a few people to help with the work. Much easier, and much more fun.

Today I am thankful that ALL of the cookies have been iced and that we do, in fact, have a few of the gingerbread variety left for us to eat. Those are my favorite. Plus, ginger helps with nausea, so it goes without saying we needed to keep a few of those.

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