Thursday, December 18, 2008

Four Pounds Of Butter

The baking season is in full swing here at the StudentNurse household. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have gone through four pounds of butter in the last week. Yes. I know you're thinking about saturated fat and heart disease and heck, you're nigh on a Health Professional here, StudentNurse, but that four pounds of butter was distributed pretty evenly over an entire elementary school

(that was the root beer cake for Family Heritage Night - bake something from your heritage! and somehow a root beer cake struck me as something my midwestern relatives may have baked at some point and I was feeling pretty ironic and all until someone plonked down a pink, greasy box with several dozen donuts in it)

and two elementary classes (carrot raisin muffins and sugar cookies X 2 batches oh, and the chocolate chip cookies that didn't go where intended because of a case of strep throat in one of the StudentNurse kids). And I have to say, too, that I am fully aware as a near'bout Health Professional (just a little over three months here, folks!) that all of this butter and sugar and root beer flavorings are not good in such quantities (especially since nutrition is one of my areas of self-appointed expertise (I couple that with my other Area Of Interest: vector-borne diseases- "Ask Me About Hanta Virus!" my bumper sticker would say), but, I repeat:

It Is The Baking Season. It can't be helped.

So, about the above cookies (that'd be batch #2). I got the recipe here and it is the best sugar cookie recipe I've ever met and I tell you I have made at least two batches of sugar cookies q year (q= every for you non-nurse-y types) for at least a decade using a different recipe every time and I am difficult to please.

I like these a bunch because they are not too sweet and, subsequently, they can take a full load of sprinklin' sugars, raisins, red hots, or mini M & M's without burning your taste buds with SWEET. And, by the way (and since you already think I'm evil in the nutrition department), the inventor of mini M & M's should be awarded some sort of candy Nobel Prize. Those things are perfect for making little mouths and buttons (et al.) on cookies. And, shut UP (no, YOU shut up), I am way more frantic about food dyes than you are - WAY MORE. I understand Yellow #5 is Satan's Own Yellow, but...

Baking Season.

Those poor snowmen need eyes and buttons here, people! My husband almost ran to our local grocery store to purchase candy corn so that I could fashion little candy corn cob pipes for those guys. THAT is evidence, too, of our devotion to The Baking Season. And did I mention that we live in a neighborhood considered to be grocery-store deprived (sure, plenty of liquor stores) so much so that not one, but TWO non-profits set up fruit and veggie stands within two blocks of my house (in either direction) on two different days of the week. And, also, when he made the candy corn offer it was well past 11 PM.

OK. A couple of notes on my sugar cookies.

A) What's up with refrigerating overnight? Forget it. An hour, maybe, but COME ON, this recipe calls for softening the butter and it's not a pie crust. Texturally these things are great. They are short-bread-y and not as sturdy as some work horse sugar cookies and so require careful packaging up to move from your house to the place of consumption/ admiration, but, just yum.

B) I used orange zest because my lemon tree is sorrowful and neglected and has two tiny green lemons waiting to perish in the unseasonably chilly weather going down right now.

C) You will need to use lots of flour on rolling surface and pin: this dough is sticky. I made it twice and once did fridge it overnight and that batch was even stickier than the dough I disrespected.

D) Have I mentioned how much I love parchment paper? That's my other bumper sticker: I *heart* Parchment Paper.


Anonymous said...

yea, I'm with you on the refrigeration time on the dough!

Jane said...

I'm not concerned about the butter or the sugar, but as far as the petroleum-based, cancer-causing dyes....did you know that there are natural alternatives for most of that colored junk?
Sundrops is a natural version of M&Ms. Jelly Belly now makes a natural jelly bean. There are naturally colored sugar sprinkles from India Tree, and several companies make natural food dyes. And if you have a broken (all-natural) red & white candy cane, crush it up and use the bits for pepperminty flavor and specks of color.
Nobody has to eat petrol. See for details.

Molly said...

Thanks Jane. We really do avoid food dyes around here most of the year. I'd never heard of Sundrops. I'm sold if they make mini ones!