Slice and Bake Brown Sugar Cookies

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I spent three hours making cookies today. Or, I should say... I spent three hours making the dough. The baking time is separate.

What? I've never told you I'm crazy?

Well, now you know.


But these are so ridiculously adorable and festive that I just couldn't resist. And perhaps it wouldn't take a normal person three hours to prepare these for baking. However, for me and my perfectionist tendencies, these involved rolling and re-rolling dough, measuring (yes, I busted out a ruler!), and cutting the dough along a straight edge with a pizza cutter.

Yes, I'm crazy indeed.

Let's just say that if cookies had a "difficulty rating," these would be labeled as "for advanced users only." If you aren't handy with a rolling pin, you should probably stay away. Well, stay away from making these cookies. I'm not saying you can't eat them. Anyone can do that. :)

The recipe from Bridget includes pretty detailed instructions on how to make each of the three designs pictured above (the stripes, checkerboard, and spiral cookies). The candy canes were my own doing, made from my dough scraps. I simply rolled out "snakes" of dough with my hands, and then twisted them together in the shape of candy canes. Cute, huh? They were the easiest ones!

These sugar cookies taste different from your typical cutouts, and that's because they're made with brown sugar. They're not too sweet--instead, they remind me a bit of a shortbread cookie. Bridget said that to her, they're essentially chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate. Either way, I think these are a winner. The recipe makes a lot of cookies, but they're small and pretty thin, so no need to halve the recipe!

All of these colorful designs look super impressive when put together on a platter, so if you do decide to take these on... you're sure to receive many comments on how pretty they are. And that's just a bonus. :)

Slice and Bake Brown Sugar Cookies
(Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

Makes about 8 dozen

The only difficult part of this recipe is rolling out the dough to an exact size. The best method I found was to initially roll it out to about twice the desired size, then trim the edges to a shape 1 inch smaller in each direction than you eventually want. Place the trimmings on the cut rectangle, cover with wax paper, and roll out to your final desired size (see photos above).

Ingredients:
- 4 cups (19.2 ounces) unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs, preferably room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (7 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (I omitted)

Directions:
1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Break the eggs into a small measuring cup, whisk them lightly, and mix in the vanilla.

2. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand-held mixer). Beat the butter on medium-low speed until it’s smooth, then add the salt and both sugars. Continue beating on medium-low until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running, gradually add the egg mixture. Once the eggs have been added, scrape the sides of the bowl once, then continue mixing on medium speed for about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until evenly combined. Divide the dough into three equal portions.

3. For the striped cookies: Divide the first portion of dough into three more equally sized parts. Color one third red, another green, and leave the last one white. Between sheets of wax paper, roll each portion out to a 3-by-9-inch rectangle. Freeze the rectangles for about 10 minutes, until they’re firm enough to cut and stack. Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise to form two 1½-by-9-inch rectangles. Stack the rectangles of dough, alternating colors, to form a block of dough with stripes. Trim the edges if desired. Wrap in wax paper and freeze for at least four hours, or up to 4 weeks.

4. For the checkerboard cookies: (For these, I chose not to use the chocolate. Instead, I just used brown food coloring (Wilton) to color half the dough. I've left the original instructions here in case you'd like to do the chocolate.) Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on half power for about 30 seconds. Stir, then repeat the heating and stirring until fully melted, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Divide one portion of dough into two equally sized parts. Mix the chocolate into one half and leave the other plain. Roll each portion into a 9-by-3-inch rectangle. Freeze the rectangles for about 10 minutes, until they’re firm enough to cut and stack. Cut each rectangle into eight 9-by-3/8-inch strips. On a sheet of wax paper, lay four strips next to each other, alternating colors. Press the strips together gently to remove any gaps. Lay another four strips on top of the first layer, alternating colors between layers. Repeat twice more, until there are four layers of four strips each. Trim the edges if desired. Wrap in wax paper and freeze for at least four hours, or up to 4 weeks.

5. For the spiral cookies: Divide the last portion of dough into two equally sized parts. Color one half red and the other green. Between sheets of waxed paper, roll each portion of dough into an 8-by-8-inch square. Without chilling the dough, stack the squares, then tightly roll them together to form a spiral. Wrap the dough in wax paper and freeze for at least fours hours, or up to 4 weeks.

6. When ready to bake, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Slice the frozen logs into cookies about 1/8-inch thick. Lay the cookies on the prepared pan, about 1/2-inch apart. Bake for 7-10 minutes, just until the tops no longer look wet. Let the cookies cool on the pan for about 2 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks. Serve at room temperature. Stored in an airtight container, the cookies will be good for at least a week.

2 comments:

Nicole December 28, 2009 at 12:49 AM  

I made the checkerboard cookies this season, too! And I also broke out the ruler. Crazy?! I don't think so; I would consider us more focused on precision. :)

Bridget December 28, 2009 at 1:39 PM  

Oh yes, I definitely used a ruler as well. I love the candy canes! I'm definitely doing that next time I make these.

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