Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sharing Sugary Love

I am still sick, and therefore still grumpy.  My lower back hurts and my tummy is uncomfortable.  I just sat through a terrible review session for our Psychopathology final, and now I'm even grumpier.

I am in such a bad mood, even baking couldn't fix it.  Earlier today, I was part of a collective effort to make about 200 cookies.  Wesleyan's chapter of Active Minds, an organization to change the conversation about mental health issues on campus, decided to bake cookies for people during finals week.  We made around 200 cookies (chocolate chip, iced sugar, and vegan oatmeal raisin).  We are going to put each one in a baggie with a little positive note and stress-relief tip, and then pass them out to people in the libraries.  As much as I love this idea and as much as I love baking, this project may have been a little too much for my fragile body to handle, and now I just feel worse than ever.

Iced Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book
*Yield: about 6 dozen cookies.  Cut the recipe in half if you are not baking for a large crowd.*

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tsps baking powder
3 dashes salt
3 large eggs
3 tsps vanilla
6 cups all-purpose flour

Beat together butter and shortening on high for 30 seconds until smooth.
Add sugar, salt, and baking power and beat until combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each, then stir in vanilla.
Stir in as much flour as possible with the mixer, then stir in the rest with a wooden spoon.
Form dough into a ball.  It should not be overly sticky.
Split dough in half and roll out on a lightly-floured surface to approximately 1/2" thickness.
Cut dough with cookie cutters of your choice, trying to fit as many in as possible.  Roll out scraps and repeat until dough is gone.  The more times you roll it out, the tougher the dough will be, and the more your cookies will taste like hockey pucks.
Bake cookies for about 8 minutes at 375°F until the BOTTOMS turn golden brown.  The tops of the cookies should not brown.  Transfer IMMEDIATELY to wire racks for cooling.  Otherwise you will have burnt, rock-like cookies that no one wants to eat.
Frost cookies with simple glaze, or decorate with colored buttercream.  We chose glaze for time concerns.
To make a simple glaze, throw confectioners' sugar in a bowl with 1 tsp extract of your choice (we used peppermint in the holiday spirit), and then stir in milk until you reach your desired consistency.  The glaze should be very thick in the bowl, which will ensure that it stays white on the cookie and doesn't disappear.

We are placing each cookie in a bag with these stress-reduction pamphlets, to help our peers have a better finals time:

Happy studying and paper-writing, everyone!  
Love and cookies,

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