What do you do if it's Friday night and you don't have a life? You make cookies! What do you do on Saturday when you don't have a life? You decorate cookies!
I'm not the biggest Halloween freak around; I think it's a kind of silly holiday whose original roots have become just as distorted as the roots of Christmas and Easter (i.e. a pagan celebration appropriated by the Catholic Church way back when in order to Christianize the Celt out of the Celts). But, no matter how much I poo-poo the modern-day version of an ancient festival, it is always - as are the other holidays - a great excuse to bake! I own a few Halloween cookie cutters, and have kept in my recipe binder a recipe for sugar cookies that came from the May 2006 issue of Canadian Living (no link to the FREE recipe on the site; that's because I'm pretty sure it shows up in the new Complete Canadian Living Baking Book, much to my annoyance). So, here it is.
Sugar Cookies, by Canadian Living
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1. Line cookie sheets with parchment or a silicone mat.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and stir into the butter mixture in three additions (so you don't overwork the flour). Divide dough in half. Pat into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour (or, do as I do and put the discs in the freezer for 15 minutes or so).
3. Roll out the dough to 1/4". Cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350F for 10 - 12 minutes, or until light golden on the bottoms and edges. Cool completely.
My dough didn't quite come together as it should, so I added a tiny bit of cream until it was the proper consistency. Such is life with baking - you learn to adapt.
I used Royal Icing to decorate, and to make it I don't usually use a recipe. Basically, I take an egg white and beat it slightly in a medium bowl to relax it. I then add in icing sugar until I get the consistency I want. In this case, you want to be able to pipe it through a small tip easily, but if you were putting together a gingerbread house, you'd make the royal icing much stiffer. For the cookies that have solid colours, the icing needs to be runny enough to flood the surface of the cookie, leaving a smooth top. The black outlining and detail was done with a #2 Wilton tip, and in this case, the icing was quite stiff so the colour didn't bleed into the background colour.
All in all, a nifty little project that kept me busy for a few hours on a quiet fall afternoon. I am now officially Halloweened out!
Full Flickr set here.