GO PENS! with All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
After coming painfully close to raising the Cup last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins have earned a rematch with the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals, set to begin tomorrow night. This isn’t a sports blog so I won’t bore all of you foodies with the nitty gritty details, except to say I have been a huge hockey fan since I was a kid, I adored Mario Lemiuex, I still have the ’91 and ’92 victory games on VHS tape, and I’m from Pittsburgh. The Steelers won the Super Bowl this year. The Pens winning the Stanley Cup in the same year would be insanely exciting.
Okay, now that I got that out, onto the cookies!
First of all, hardcore Pittsburgh fans will realize that my jerseys look more like Steelers jerseys than Pens jerseys, but I ran out of the lighter shade of yellow, oops. But Black & Gold is Black & Gold, right?
I had wanted to make Steelers decorated sugar cookies for the Super Bowl, but ran out of time, so I decided I definitely needed to make them for the Stanley Cup playoffs. I have a tried-and-true sugar cookie recipe that I always use, but I thought this would be a good time to give another one a try. Who else would I turn to than the dessert guru herself, Dorie Greenspan?
Now, I’ve been making my tried and true recipe for over two years and have always loved it, however I think Dorie’s recipe really takes the cake. Although the cookies spread just a tad more than my previous recipe (most likely due to using butter vs. margarine), the taste is far superior. I also think that the spreading could be minimized by putting the already-cut cookies back in the refrigerator before baking. I don’t think there are really any tricks to this recipe, although I do typically roll my dough a little thicker than the recommended ¼-inch because I like my sugar cookies to be nice and soft and chewy. And these are exactly that!
On a slight aside, why are there no hockey-related cookie cutters? I only found a hockey stick and hockey puck cutter. Boring. If anyone from baking supply companies or the NHL are reading this, team logo cookie cutters would be AWESOME. Pretty please? Football team logo cutters are easy to find.
This was the second time I worked with royal icing and flooding cookies (ironically, the first time I did it was for the Super Bowl). Although it takes some time, I absolutely love decorating cookies in this way.
UPDATE: I have since posted a step-by-step tutorial on how to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing. CLICK HERE to view the tutorial.
And just for old time’s sake…
Let’s Go Pens! DO IT!
Edited to add: WE DID IT!!
All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional)
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated - because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finisht eh job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.
Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you - I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you're going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies - I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you've rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.
If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you'd like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.
Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.