Monday, December 1, 2008
A cookie party is a great way to have a holiday open house. In addition to cookies, I like to serve pb&j sandwich cutouts made with holiday cookie cutters, soup, and warm cider.
Having tried perhaps a dozen recipes for roll cookies, I've settled on this as my favorite. I get multiple requests for the recipe every time I make these for a party. The recipe is simple and delicious.
Rich Roll Cookies
modified from The Joy of Cooking
makes about four dozen cookies
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (I like them both ways)
Combine and add:
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
(optional: 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, if you use vanilla instead of almond extract)
Divide dough into three portions. Place each portion between sheets of floured plastic wrap. Press evenly into a disk about 1/4 inch thick. Stack disks on a baking sheet. Chill dough at least 10 minutes before rolling and up to two days.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Working with one portion of dough at a time (keep remaining chilled), peel off plastic wrap and set disk on a floured board. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick. With floured cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Transfer to parchment-lined sheets, placing cookies about 1 inch apart. Gather up scraps and press into a ball. Roll and cut out remaining cookies.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly colored.
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 lb (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons warm water
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
Makes 3 cups.
I recommend not making this too stiff if young children will be decorating/spreading; add water to thin.
Unfortunately, the icing cannot be made in advance, as it hardens. Put it in the mixer 15-30 minutes before your party starts. When the icing is ready, divide into bowls and add color.
Make the dough a couple of days ahead of time; bake all the cookies the day before the party.
Have paper plates available to put cookies on to decorate.
Make more icing than you think you'll need!
Have wet cloths available for sticky hands. Places like Target and Costco sell large inexpensive stacks of white washcloths.
Make about 6 cookies per child.
Cover your table with butcher paper (available at craft stores).
Have bakery boxes available to take home cookies (buy from a local bakery), or use paper plates and staple on another as a lid.
A recipe card with the cookie recipe makes a nice favor to send home with the cookies.
We like to use coconut (looks like snow), marshmallows, holiday M&Ms, gumdrops, red hots, sanding sugars, decorative sprinkles and the like to embellish cookies. Lots of these items are found on the baking aisle of your local supermarket. Check Economy Candy, Fancy Flours and India Tree for unusual candies. We got the little trees, snowflakes and candy canes from Williams Sonoma.
Kids love to use icing pens to decorate with. These can be found on most baking aisles.
Be sure to use food paste to color icing, available at cooking stores or online from stores like Williams Sonoma. A few drops provide vibrant color. I have found it impossible to make red icing with bottled food coloring (pink seems to be as dark as it gets).