Red White and Blue Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

Happy 4th of July (one day late)! I had a great day off from class yesterday, which was a much needed recovery and chill out day after a weekend of ultimate frisbee. If you’ve ever heard of Potlatch, a big ultimate frisbee tournament held in Redmond, WA every July, then you know how much fun I had over the weekend. Unfortunately I missed the last day of the 3-day tournament for class, but we did have yesterday off, so I took advantage of it by going to a friend’s house for a barbecue, and I brought these patriotic themed cookies as my contribution. I found this recipe from Just a Taste, but I didn’t really have the time to wait for hours for the dough to chill, so I just did a combination of fridge, freezer, and improvisation. I added a little more flour to make the dough a little stiffer so I didn’t have to refrigerate it as long. I also added some almond extract to the dough to give it a little more classic sugar cookie flavor, and shortened the baking time to keep them nice and soft. They turned out wonderfully soft and chewy and although I didn’t get the colors exactly right, they were still pretty! Please note that I used about 20 drops of food coloring to get to the color in these photos, so to get a deep red and blue, you will have to use a LOT of food coloring, or it might be best to resort to the gel or something with a more powerful color. In any case, here’s my recipe!

Patriotic Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

adapted from Just a Taste

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

Blue food coloring (I used 20 drops to get to light blue)

Red food color (I used 20 drops to get to a dark pink)

Directions

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in both extracts and eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.

Separate the dough into three equal parts. The first part will be the white part of the cookies. Mix blue food coloring into the second part until the desired blue consistency is reached. Wash the bowl and mixer (or use a second bowl) and mix red food coloring into the third part until desired red color is reached. Wrap all the dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and divide each third into two equal parts. Between two sheets of wax paper, roll each portion of dough into a rectangle of about the same size and shape, about 1/8 inch thick. Chill the dough in the fridge between sheets of wax paper for another 15-30 minutes.

After the second chilling, remove the dough and use the wax paper to put together the layers. I put the blue on the bottom, then white in the middle, and red on top. Use the wax paper to place the layers, peeling off the bottom wax paper first, laying down the dough, then peeling off the top layer of wax paper.

Roll the layered dough into a tight log, then roll out the log until it is the desired diameter of your cookies (mine was about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Place in the fridge for another 30 minutes (or you can probably skip this step if you have a sharp enough knife and don’t mind the cookies not being entirely round, which is what I did).

Once you are done chilling the dough logs, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the cookie logs into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, and place about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, so the cookies are just baked but not yet browning on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before moving them to cooling racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Sugar Cookies with Simple Icing

Happy New Year everyone! I decided that I should get in at least one blog post in the new year, so here we are. This is my first winter without a winter break, since I’m not a student for the year, which has been a little sad. At least work has been pretty quiet the last couple weeks. But, my sister is still in college, so she’s been home for the last three weeks, and we’ve had lots of fun making and decorating gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies! This is my mom’s favorite recipe for sugar cookies. I have no idea where it came from, since it’s just handwritten on an index card she has filed away, but it’s the recipe we’ve been using for years, and I’m a fan of it.

These cookies are sweet, as sugar cookies should be, and pretty delicious by themselves. However, half the fun is decorating them! Plus adding a little sugar can only improve the flavor, right? Right. We didn’t do any fancy royal icing, so it’s a little more delicate, but once you ice the cookies, if you let them dry for a few hours, you can stack them with wax paper with little damage. The cookies have a light, delicate crumb, and I baked them for a little less time than recommended, to keep them nice and soft, while still sturdy enough to hold icing. With a little time and patience, these can be a fun family (or in my case, sibling) project, and they make great holiday giveaways! Get creative and have fun with your cookies, they’ll still taste great no matter how they look! Also if you really mess up, you can just eat it and no one will be the wiser… Not that we’ve done that or anything. Anyway, here’s our family holiday recipe.

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cream of tartar

3 cups all-purpose flour

Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbsp milk, or to desired consistency

1 tsp vanilla extract

Few drops food coloring of choice

Directions

To make the cookies, cream together the butter and sugar by hand or with a mixer, until a smooth paste forms. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Whip in the baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar, then stir in the flour until just combined. The dough will be pretty dry and crumbly, I often have to mash it together with my hands at the end. Divide the dough into two parts, form each into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

When ready to roll out the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a floured surface (we use cutting boards), roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters of your choice, or just round glasses will work if you don’t have cookie cutters. Once you’ve finished with the sheet of dough, press the scraps together gently and roll out again, trying to handle the dough as little as possible. Continue to cut cookies and roll out the scraps until you’ve exhausted all the dough. Transfer cut cookies to the prepared baking sheets and bake for 6-7 minutes, until puffy, but before they begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. It is important that the cookies are completely cool before decorating, otherwise they will heat up the icing and make it run everywhere.

While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Stir together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, until the desired consistency is reached. If you want to add food coloring, add a couple drops at a time, until the desired color is reached. Fill a ziploc bag (I use the cup method) and cut a tiny (like 1-2 mm tiny) hole in one corner of the bag (you can always cut it bigger, but it can’t be cut smaller, so start small). Decorate the cookies as you wish. Allow the icing to set for a few hours before stacking and storing them. Enjoy!

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