Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Easy Cookie Making: My Busy-Mom-Method

Simple Vanilla Cookies Sliced, using Busy Mom Method
Back when I was raising my 4 children, I really had to use my time wisely.  One day, I wanted to make cookies, but was in a rush, so I got this bright idea.  Why not just roll out the cookie dough onto the entire cookie sheet and bake it in one piece?  Would that work?

I tried this out with a recipe for Simple Vanilla Cookies and it worked great!  Since the part I like least about making cookies is all the little individual scoops, then baking on separate sheets, waiting for one batch to be done, baking the next, and so on, not to mention all the counter space taken up with cooling cookies, this bright idea seemed exceptionally useful.  I greased the cookie sheet and patted the dough out into a rough rectangle.  The dough needs to be floured lightly, in order to be able to use the rolling pin.  I rolled carefully, coaxing the dough to the edges and the corners.  The dough is forgiving, and can be pushed around quite a bit.  The sheet was popped into the oven to bake.

Simple Vanilla Cookies in cookie form
I quickly made up a small batch of simple icing by mixing up some confectioners' sugar with a pinch of salt, some vanilla and water enough to make a thick paste that fell very slowly from the spoon.  When the giant "cookie" came out of the oven, I quickly poured the icing onto the hot cookie. The icing melts onto the hot cookie, making it easy to spread carefully to all the edges, and in minutes the top had set. I used a large chef's knife and cut the giant cookie into small squares - and voila!  I had cookies in half the time and almost no work!

I have used this method for a few types of cookies and it works well.  It may not work for all cookies, and I have tried with only a few, but since these were some of the easiest to make, these recipes were the ones I made most often.  These Simple Vanilla Cookies were top of the list, but I also would make others like Hermits, redolent with warm spices, and ice them the same way.  Just that thin layer of icing, and what a difference.

Try this out sometime when in a rush, and see if it doesn't come out easily.  Just see what you think!

Simple Vanilla Cookies

Makes about 7 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2¾ cups all-purpose flour

Cream butter, shortening and sugar. Add vanilla and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in flour, mixing well. Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove immediately from pan.

If you like an iced cookie: make a glaze icing by mixing 1½ cups of confectioners' sugar, with ½ teaspoon vanilla and enough water (or milk) to make a paste, like very soft peanut butter. Add water by tiny amounts, starting with a tablespoon and adding in small bits thereafter. It gets runny very easily. Stir well each time before adding more water. Take each cookie and dip the top into the glaze and set aside to dry.

NOTES: Just for anecdotal trivia...

When I was in Guatemala, one morning I made a batch of these cookies. I popped the last pan in the oven, and set the timer. Itching to get outside for a bit, I stepped out to see what the children were doing. . . and got distracted. By the time I remembered the cookies they had baked and shrunken down to tiny little black hockey pucks - not even the dogs had any interest in them! It pays not to get distracted when baking. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.