Weekend Cooking: 2010 Baking Marathon

This weekend, I’m participating in Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking Challenge. You’ll find the Sugar Cookie recipe at the end of this post.

My sister hosted me in her home and kitchen this weekend for our first annual Christmas Cookie Bake-athon.  We had so much fun baking, chatting, and teasing each other.  I grumbled about her persnickety cookie decorating and sizing rules, and she mocked me for my inability to double or triple recipes without the help of my fingers, paper, and a pencil. After much struggling on my part, I managed to triple the following recipe to yield about 100 cookies.  When it came to prepare the cookies for baking, my sister pulled out her secret weapon: a Waterford cut crystal salt shaker.

A few years ago, my sister hit upon the idea of using the bottom of the salt shaker as a cookie press.  Martha Stewart would be appalled.

By pressing the bottom of the shaker on to the rounded (uncooked) dough balls, it flattens them and adds a snowflake-like pattern to the top. After baking the cookies, she dusts them with sanding sugar which gives them a crystal, sparkly effect.

Between baking dozens of cookies in many varieties, we also managed to squeeze in a Christmas craft–gumdrop trees. We started with several bags of spiced gum drops, a glue gun, and styrofoam cones.

In between pulling trays of hot cookies out of the oven, we glued the drops on to the cone.

After two hours of gluing, giggling, and singing along with Christmas music, we finished!

And that’s how I spent my last weekend before Christmas, 2010.

Best Butter Cookie Recipe

3/4 cup white granulated sugar

1/2 cup softened (NOT MELTED) unsalted butter

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

decorator or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine granulated sugar, butter, and egg in a large bowl.  Beat at medium speed until well mixed.  Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT for decorating/sanding sugar.  Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Shape cold dough into 1 inch balls.  Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper or ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly with bottom of a drinking glass (or cut crystal salt shaker) dipped in sugar.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown.  Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies.  Enjoy!

14 Comments

  • At 2010.12.18 23:04, rhapsodyinbooks said:

    Oh, that gum drop tree is the total cutest! Actually one year we used a styrofoam tree like that and put broccoli and cherry tomatoes on so it would be like a Christmas tree with red balls and that was very cute for dinner – I just remembered that! But personally, I’d rather have a gumball tree!!!!!
    rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog post ..Christmas Cookie Virtual Cookie Swap

    • At 2010.12.18 23:37, Natalie said:

      a broccoli tree? we would not have been down with that one. lol. truth be told, we wouldn’t have needed quite so many bags of candy if we would have stopped EATING them. but they are so good. 🙂

    • At 2010.12.19 03:18, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

      I was baking cookies today too and we totally started a discussion about chilling the dough and if it should be done or not. There was an issue with some of the cookies being too flat. Anyway…I love your gumdrop tree, AND I love how perfectly same sized all your cookies are! I hope they taste as good as they look. I’m off to eat another cookie.

      • At 2010.12.19 09:07, Beth F said:

        What a precious day for you and your sister. I love the cookie press! And the gumdrop tree is festive and easy and gave you time to sit and chat.
        Beth F´s last blog post ..Weekend Cooking- Cookies and Holiday Memories

        • At 2010.12.19 15:01, Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said:

          The butter cookies look beautiful – I love the little dusting of blue sugar on the top and the cookie press 🙂

          • At 2010.12.19 15:23, Margot said:

            What a great tradition you and your sister have started. I bet you’ll look back on this day for many years. Your sister’s use of the glass is a great idea. I love how the cookies look. Gumdrop tree looks good too. I would have had a hard time getting them to the styrofoam because I’d be eating them.

            Thanks for letting me know about my bad link on Weekend Cooking. I had a word spelled wrong.
            Margot´s last blog post ..My Reading Challenges for 2011

            • At 2010.12.19 15:44, g said:

              you know, it’s rare that i wish i was back east – but right now is one of those times. invite me!!! i want to play!! sounds like a perfect day.

              • At 2010.12.19 18:37, Erin said:

                This sounds like so much fun! I need to start having an annual baking day. I do love baking! I like the resourcefulness of your sister’s secret butter cookie shaping tool. Very clever 🙂
                Erin´s last blog post ..Sunday Salon- Holiday Preparations

                • At 2010.12.19 21:10, Dishy said:

                  Go Jess! Your sister is WAY creative & resourceful. Love the cookie press idea — making use of what you have on hand often brings better results anyway. I spent part of today baking a certain someone’s recipe – check the site tomorrow and you’ll see! XO

                  PS: are you going to eat the gumdrop tree?? what about the glue??
                  Dishy´s last blog post ..Pecan Turtle Squares

                  • At 2010.12.19 22:29, Michelle said:

                    What a crafty fun weekend! I love the Waterford cookie press-very resourceful! I think M.S. would be impressed~it is Waterford, after all. The Gumdrop tree looks amazing but I love gumdrops and would be sad not to pick them off and eat them every time I pass through the room.
                    Michelle´s last blog post ..Weekend Cooking-Is it still the Weekend

                    • At 2010.12.21 19:49, Kathleen said:

                      Sounds and looks like a lot of fun. I have to love that Waterford cookie press!
                      Kathleen´s last blog post ..Some Sunshine for a Cold Winter day

                      • At 2010.12.21 19:59, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

                        The cookies sound wonderful, but the time with your sister sounds even better!

                        • At 2010.12.22 13:49, toothybooks said:

                          that’s pretty clever of your sister and the cookies turned out amazing! i’ll have to try out your recipe one of these days.

                          • At 2010.12.23 12:42, Meg said:

                            Totally agree: that gumdrop tree is adorable. And I love the snowflake sugar cookies! Such a clever lady, your sister!
                            Meg´s last blog post ..Puckering up for Hershey Kiss Cookies

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