Funny thing, yesterday was my “best day for likes.” One hundred and seventy days of pouring my heart out and the post that people like is about my inability to follow a simple baking recipe? I’m just going to file that under “does not compute” for now and move on.
Three recipes tried, two relative successes, one complete failure.
Yesterday afternoon I started with this recipe from All Recipes. The recipe specifically called for chilling the dough for at least an hour, or overnight. I chilled the cookies overnight, rolled them out this morning, and they look great (yes, this is a nonstick pan, it’s an old one I saved for projects and using it was an accident).
The only snag, and this is completely on me, is that I used sugar in the raw because I forgot to buy normal sugar, so that’s why you see little bumps. I’m not sure what it will mean for how the cookies taste, but you won’t see the bumps under the frosting, and the dough was delicious.
I ended up adding flour as I rolled these out, because they were sticky and became more stickier as they warmed up, but they were easy enough to work with that both our almost seven year old and five year old were able to roll it themselves and cut out their favorite shapes (including the death star, of course).
This is the same recipe I had to add extra sugar in after everything was mixed, so I would describe this recipe as extremely forgiving, and would definitely recommend for someone who is just starting to figure out this whole baking thing, or isn’t so great at following directions.
I also made this recipe from Alton Brown. I’ve made a few of his other dishes and had good luck, although I tend to make little changes here or there, but that was not the case here. Full disclosure, the instructions do not say anything about chilling the dough over night, as I did, and I used the wrong sugar for this recipe too. When I pulled it out this morning to roll it out, it was like a rock, and as it came to room temperature, it crumbled and fell apart. I threw it in the garbage and used it as an opportunity to explain to our children that sometimes projects like this don’t work out quite like we planned, and that’s ok. They found that logic convincing, likely because I truly meant it.
We mixed together this recipe from Katrina’s Kitchen this morning, because it does not require any chilling. The dough was very, very dry and crumbly, and as I pulled it out, I realized I forgot to scrape the sides of the stand mixer. I realize that’s considered “common sense,” but for those of us who have never used a stand mixer (and apparently don’t have “common sense”), those notes would be helpful. So, if you make this recipe, scrape the sides. Even after I scraped and remixed the dough was crumbly, so I ended up adding about a teaspoon of water, a few drops at a time. When it came together it was easy to work with and very flavorful.
I am happy to report I followed this recipe to the letter, and the cookies look great. The angel at the top is what the dough was like before I added the extra water.
A few notes.
- Each of these recipes produced two baking sheets of cookies, but probably could have made closer to three if rolled thinly. Because we had little hands helping us, and will have little hands frosting and decorating, thick cookies make sense for our family, but I actually prefer the thin ones.
- Scrape the sides of your stand mixer and clear the blade at least twice, or between each step in the recipe.
- If your rolling pin has mysteriously disappeared because your toddler thinks it’s the only thing in the entire house that belongs to him, a wine bottle will work just fine, and because it’s cold, it actually seems to work better than a regular rolling pin. Thanks to my SIL for this trick. Funny, I don’t think she bakes, but she seems to know these things intuitively.
- If you have a nosy German Shepherd, she will eat a cookie off the counter, probably right in front of your face, so keep them back a few inches and keep her out of the kitchen, if possible.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. A project like this is going to make a giant mess in your kitchen. Find a way to embrace that. Experiment with different recipes, let your kids help, have fun. Nobody really wants to see your perfect cookies on Pinterest or Instagram anyway.
I have to go and attempt to clean up the giant mess we made before we have company. Typically I don’t worry too much about pretending to have it together when family comes over, but I do try to have things relatively organized if we are welcoming strangers. Then again, if they hang around long enough, they’re going to discover the mess eventually.
Be kind, friends! Happy baking!