How’s this for a fun new take on cookie decorating?
Truth be told, it’s only sorta new. You see, the original idea came from my Grandmother, LaRee. She was the kind of homemaker I aspire to be: fabulous cook, incredible seamstress, great pianist (& even wrote music!), & celebrated holidays like no one else.
Every Christmas, my aunt Becky gives the whole family a great gift: a piece of our family history. This past Christmas she wrote about some of Grandmother’s holiday traditions, & even included some of her old recipes! (You can bet I’ll be trying & blogging her Milkless Pumpkin Pie this fall!) One of those traditions was painting gingerbread cookies at Thanksgiving time. The “paint” was egg yolk & food coloring — they didn’t worry about salmonella back then. I thought it was such a fun idea! But obviously, the salmonella bit had to go.
I baked my favorite sugar cookie recipe; this is the recipe that I come back to every time, like a good hairdresser — when you stray, you always end up feeling sorry you did. I got it from a coworker whose wife made them for a potluck of some kind years ago. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m stealing it & reposting it (at the end of the post) for the world to see, but it really is the perfect cookie — thick, soft, & always delicious. Then I frosted them with I Am Baker’s famous glaze for a nice, hard white surface to paint on.
The next day, The Munchkin’s friend & her mommy came over to paint with us! The paint was a grand experiment that thankfully went right: a healthy glob of gel food coloring (we wanted vivid colors for the girls; if you want a lighter, more watercolor-esque effect, start with very little), plus a drop of corn syrup to stabilize, plus a couple tablespoons of water. I put a different color in each well of a muffin tin & had different brushes for each color to avoid mixing. The brushes were brand new & very well rinsed before using.
The girls had a blast! The Munchkin’s friend, who’s almost exactly a year older than her, was very careful & intent in her painting: she covered each cookie entirely in one color, switching colors only with new cookies.
You could tell the girls’ cookies apart in 2 ways: 1) The Munchkin enjoyed mixing her colors, & 2) the bite marks.
Once the girls got tired of the painting, the mommies got to have a turn. My friend Wendy is a cookie-egg-decorating master, I’ll tell you what.
(Special Easter Bunny tip: if you have small children, skip the fake grass — go with tissue paper instead. Your carpets, vacuum cleaners, domesticated animals, & sanity will thank you.)
Now, before you rush off & go paint some Easter masterpieces yourselves, here are a few things we learned:
One – If the colors touch, they will run. Leave a generous white border between colors, or you’ll get this:
Two – Food coloring isn’t as washable as Crayola. Expect your hands to look like this for a day or two if you have a particularly young &/or messy child:
Three – The corn syrup makes the paint a little sticky, even after drying, so for storage, shipping, packaging, etc., use parchment paper.
Four – No matter what holiday it is or what we’re decorating cookies for, as long as My Husband The Cougar Fanatic is around, there will always be a BYU athlete. Always.
Five – This was totally AWESOME!!!
Here’s the Perfect Sugar Cookie recipe, courtesy of my coworker’s wife, Grace:
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla (I usually let a little “spill over” to add just a teeny bit more)
- 5 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- Cream butter & sugar until smooth.
- Beat in eggs & vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients gradually & mix until well combined.
- Chill one hour to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Roll dough out on lightly floured surface, 1/2 inch thick, & cut with cookie cutters.
- Bake 6-8 minutes.
Enjoy, & have a happy, sweet, & colorful Easter!