When I thought about writing a piece about kid friendly recipes, my first thought was something fun the kids could help with and would have some kind of Valentine theme. So, bam, sugar cookie cutouts.
And then I got a bit twitchy.
I loathe making sugar cookies. Specifically cutouts. Why? Because if they aren’t just so, they can go horribly wrong so easily. Your too-thick carefully extracted snowman cutout ends up looking like a blob when it expands out of control in the oven. Or the too-thin Christmas tree cutout rips when you gingerly try to pick it up from the floured surface to lay it on the cookie sheet.
And that’s just baking them.
Decorating them presents a whole new round of challenges; glaze vs frosting, frosting colors – gah, you mix your own! – piping bag vs spreading, and then, of course, sprinkles vs nonpareils. Not to mention, infamous dragees.
In other words, they’re a pretty high maintenance cookie.
So if I was going to take this task on with a two-year-old with me, I better sure as hell simplify the task or this would quickly turn into one hell of a kitchen nightmare.
First, find a simple, basic recipe. In other words, Martha need not apply. As much as I adore her, and have found loads of success with a great deal of her recipes, they are not what I’d call easy or basic. She has a tendency – gulp – to over-complicate things in my humble opinion.
Truth be told, most sugar cookie recipes are quite complicated. Most will require refrigeration of cookie dough and some even call for obscure ingredients like buttermilk and the like. The recipe below uses common ingredients most likely on hand and in measurements that even young children can measure and make with little supervision.
To keep things simple, I decided on heart shaped cookies with a basic white frosting and kid friendly sprinkles. I think I’ll save the piping, multi-color frostings, and dragees for when my little apprentice is a bit older.
1 cup softened butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat OVEN to 400°.
In large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract, until blended. Add flour and baking powder and mix well.
Once mixed, you can choose what shape you want your Simple Sugar Cookies to be. To make traditional round sugar cookies, scoop out teaspoons full of dough, roll into small balls and flatten with fork to about 1/4″ thickness. Sprinkle lightly with sugar or colored sprinkles for fun. Bake 7-8 minutes until just starting to brown around the edges.
Dough an also be rolled out to use cookie cutters. This is a great way to make Christmas Cookies, or Simple Sugar Cookies for other holidays. Use Alphabet cookie cutters to make edible educational cookies for school. I’ve gotten themed cutters and used them for wedding and baby showers as well.
These Simple Sugar Cookies are great with or without frosting. Food coloring can be added to the dough before cooking to make sugar cookies of all colors. This recipe doubles and triples well, so you can make dozens of Simple Sugar Cookies with ease. This recipe without alterations will make about 3 dozen soft, delicious Simple Sugar Cookies. Enjoy!
makes 3 cups
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners’ sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.Photo Credit: Cara Walen