Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Cookie Parade: Watkins Vanilla Sugar Cookies

When I need an all-purpose, old-fashioned, roll-out sugar cookie for decorating, the recipe I turn to is this one from the J. R. Watkins Company, circa 1936.  I found it in the All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett (any lover of cookies NEEDS this book in their library).  Cookies made with this recipe hold their shape well when baked and are sturdy enough to hold all the toppings that 21 3rd graders can think to pile on them.  The bonus is that they also taste amazing when they are unadorned:  buttery, crisp, 
melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  

SugarBear's class getting ready to decorate their snowman cookies.

Watkins Vanilla Sugar Cookies

1.  In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour (sifted after measuring) and 1 teaspoon baking powder.  With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter with 1 cup (7 oz) sugar until well blended and fluffy, about
2 minutes.  Beat in 2 room-temperature egg yolks, then a generous pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  Gradually beat or stir in the flour mixture to form a smooth dough.

2.  Divide the dough in half or thirds.  Place each portion between large sheets of wax paper and roll out 1/8-inch thick.  Check the underside of the dough and smooth out any wrinkles.  Stack the rolled dough (paper attached) on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cold and firm, about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

3.  Take out one portion of dough at a time and gently peel away, then pat one sheet of wax paper back into place.  Flip the dough over, then peel off and discard the second sheet.  Cut out shapes with desired cutters and transfer to prepared baking sheets, about 1 1/4 inches apart.  Reroll and chill any scraps.  Sprinkle cookies with sugar or decorating sugar, if desired, or leave plain if you will ice them.

4.  Bake one sheet of cookies at a time for 8 to 11 minutes, or until lightly colored on top and slightly darker at the edges, rotating the sheet half-way through baking.  Let cool on the baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for 1 month.

SugarBear's Creation

This little man belongs to Bee over at Bee's Hive of Drama.

Please decorate us!

I used to have trouble rolling my dough out evenly.  It would always be too thick in the middle and too thin at the edges.  I invested in a set of rubber rolling-pin guides and now my rolled out dough has the correct thickness all the way through.  I purchased mine from King Arthur Flour.

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