Cookie Party!

It’s our 11th Christmas in NE Tennessee, and our 11th year hosting my nephews and their friends for an afternoon of cookie decorating, followed by pizza, movies, sugar-fueled physical activity and, on occasion, sleep. I am thrilled that The Boys and their friends still enjoy this tradition (but then again, so do the several adults who find themselves here for the event, too).

I am fortunate to have the perfect sugar cookie recipe, thanks to friend – and newly named Director of the Blue Plum Festival – Deanna Hays. I will make 4 or more batches of this recipe over the next few days, will bake them off on Friday, and whip up about 5 pounds of icing to go on them. The icing will be divided, tinted, and put into squeeze bottles (restaurant supply stores sell them for about $1 apiece). The big box of assorted sprinkles will be put out, and the basement kitchen will be filled with kids, adults, sprinkles, music, and laughter.

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Sugar Cookies
Makes about 50, depending on the size of the cookie cutters used

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla (or half vanilla, half almond extract)
1/2 cup milled flax seed
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)

Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
In another bowl, combine flour, flax seed and baking powder. Slowly add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and beat at low speed until combined.

Chill dough for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Taking a quarter of the dough at a time so the remainder stays chilled, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Carefully transfer cookies to lightly greased or parchment-lined (my preference) cookie sheets. Bake for about 14 minutes, until edges of dough just start to brown. Let them cool on a wire rack, stack them up, and get ready to decorate!

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Icing for Sugar Cookies
Make a lot. I use Wilton gel color tints. They have great, vibrant colors and don’t water down the icing. Also, they are much neater than those little squeeze bottles (argh!)

2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp buttermilk
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
Gel food tint assortment

Combine everything except the tints in the bowl of a mixer. Beat until smooth, adding a few drops of water of buttermilk as needed to make the icing spreadable.

Take a portion of icing out into a smaller bowl and tint to the desired color. Place the tinted icing in a clean, dry squeeze bottle for piping and/or a bowl for spreading.

I end up making 6 or 7 colors because I just don’t know when to quit.

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