In the Cookie Jar

The Great Cookie Cutter Project of 2011 – Week 1

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In December 2010 my son, Alex, noting the vast number of cookie cutters I have, suggested we bake a whole lot of cookies and use ALL of the cutters.  From that seed of an idea, the Great Cookie Cutter Project of 2011 sprouted.  Every weekend (or most of them) of this year, the kids and I are going to bake a small batch of cookies using about half a dozen cookie cutters from my collection.  Sometimes we might use more, sometimes we might use fewer, but the object of the game is to use ALL of the cookie cutters by the end of 2011. 

I hope you’ll stop by every week and take a look at what we’ve done!

This is Week 1….

The first order of business was to reorganize my cookie cutters. 

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Yes, as you can imagine, this task was met with great huzzahs of joy.

Ahem.

I said, this task was met with great huzzahs of joy.

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This organizing consisted mostly of me putting all the Christmas cutters back in one large container and the three of us discussing which cutters were strictly “Christmas” and which fell under the broader category of “Winter.”

Once we had that settled, and everything else was sorted back into the other boxes (stars with stars, various animals and birds with the rest of the animals and birds, and so on).

Then I had each child pick three cutters.  You saw them in the first picture of this post.

Alex picked the moose and the two large snowflake shapes, Julia (in case you hadn’t guessed) picked the other three. 

Next, I made the dough.

Just a small, basic butter cookie dough this week, flavored with almond extract instead of vanilla, because I’m a wild woman.

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Here’s the recipe:

Printable Version!

Almond Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work surface

1/4 teaspoon salt

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Colored sugars, optional

1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash, optional

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What to do:

1.  Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in egg and almond extract and blend until well combined.

2.  Whisk together flour and salt, then add into butter/sugar/egg mixture and beat on low speed until just blended.

3.  Scrape dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press into a disk, wrap well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

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Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

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4.  Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll dough out to about 1/4” thick.

5.  Cut out cookies and place on cookie sheets.  Place cookie sheets in refrigerator for about 20 minutes and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

6.  If you are using colored sugar to decorate your cookies, brush each cookie with a bit of egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

7.  Bake about 8-10 minutes or until just golden.  Rotate pans halfway through bake time.

8.  Cool on racks and continue decorating with icing, if desired.

~~~

Now, before you begin, here’s one important thing to keep in mind.

If you have two KA mixers, of different sizes, make sure you use the SMALLER paddle for the SMALLER bowl, otherwise, if you use the LARGER paddle, it will cause your SMALLER bowl to bump out of its locked position and your butter and sugar will go ALL OVER the counter.  And then you might think “Hm.  I guess I forgot to lock the bowl in place, how silly of me!”  And then you will lock the bowl back in place and wonder for a moment why the paddle doesn’t fit right.  And they you will figuratively slap your own forehead, put the LARGER paddle in the sink and get the SMALLER one off its hook on your pegboard, dump the remaining butter and sugar in the garbage and start things all over again.

Hope that’s helpful.

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Moving along…

I gave each child half of the dough to work with, and they got busy cutting out their shapes.

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In addition to the six cutters pictured at the beginning of this post, they also used some little tiny mini cutters as well. 

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I have a set of 12, and they’re mostly used for garnishes or, in this case, to cut holes in snowflake cookies.  And sometimes in other shaped cookies as well.  Like snowmen.

For the most part, the kids worked very well together.  A rather miraculous feat, considering they’ve been stuck with each other for over a week, with no school-day respite for either of them. 

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I found that telling them I’d cancel the cookie project if they bickered an effective deterrent to sibling conflicts.

After they cut out all the cookies (and I cut out a few, too, with the last round of scraps), we chilled them for about 20 minutes before brushing some with egg wash and sprinkling colored sugars on top.

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I was actually permitted to make some cookies myself.  I had enough dough for three shapes and the scraps.

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I think I did a lovely job decorating the scraps.

After we did round one of decorating, I put the trays of cookies back in the fridge to chill again while I preheated the oven.

These baked pretty quickly – about 8 minutes total at 375 F.

Once the cookies cooled, I gave the kids (okay, and myself), some glitter icing (left from Julia’s birthday cake last year), edible glitter, little tiny white sugar dot things (you’ll see in the picture) and these tiny gold edible glitter stars that I used on some cupcakes this past fall.

And now, without further chatter on my part, here are all the finished cookies.

First – Julia’s:

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Next – Alex’s:

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And, finally – mine:

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We had fun, and that is the most important part of this whole project.  I want it to be fun.  Once it turns into a chore, forget it. 

This first week was rushed a bit, so I didn’t end up decorating the way I wanted to – with lots of realistic detail (because I’m nuts) – so I need to plan better for the next time. 

Or not.

I also need/hope/plan to vary the recipes, which is why I made such a small batch of dough.  This is going to be a LOT of cookies over time, and I don’t want us all to start ballooning up in size.  I also don’t want the cookies to get tossed because we’re sick of them.

I’m hoping my neighbors don’t mind the frequent cookie plates that will surely come their way!e

I’m also thinking – just to give ourselves and everyone around us a break – we could do a batch of dog biscuits every so often instead of people cookies. 

So anyway, that’s the story of our first cookie cutter weekend.  I hope you’ll enjoy the series!

3 thoughts on “The Great Cookie Cutter Project of 2011 – Week 1

  1. I love how Alex lost his jersey and Julia’s rolled her sleeves up in the second shot of them working. It made me laugh. Also made me want to make some cookies with the almond extract.

  2. I love that your house looks like mine – cookbooks cookbooks – cookie cutters, lived in. Another goal for 2011 organize my cookie cutters. That might take all of 2011.

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