Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sugar Phallacy

This is not a flirty cookie post. Yet, sometimes cookies are the only thing to keep my toes warm at night. Other times the sugar-high makes me laugh out-loud before turning out the light.

Sugar cookies also remind me of cooking with my Mom when I was a kid. There were the messy piles of flour on the floor, my buns squished on the counter-top aside the electric mixer, and of course... licking the sugary goo off the spoon before a cookie was born.

We used to decorate cookies for each holiday, sprinkling crunchy specks of sugar atop tree-shaped Christmas cookies, and heart-shaped ones for Valentine's day. But what I'll always appreciate, and remember most, was my Mom's sense of humor. The time she made a gigantic phallic-shaped cookie with balls (and all) for my Dad particularly sticks out in my mind.

Not because it was inappropriate, but because it was her.

Part of her humor was always the element of surprise that one never expected. Thinking about it makes me laugh out-loud.

Ironically, I saw a glimpse of my Mom in a sous chef I work with. Last weekend, I ordered a flatbread pizza to kick-start my shift. When I picked it up from the window, it was instead an exaggerated, bigger-than-life-size phallic organ of a flatbread.

And this is one of the many reasons that I am drawn to the restaurant industry. Those who work in restaurants have a sense of humor, energy, and zest for the little silly things in life that keep me peddling back for more.

Call me immature. I beg to differ.

Sugar Cookies Recipe, courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine
Use any cookie-cutter shapes you like; I bought my hearts from Crate n' Barrel. The frosting recipe yields enough frosting to make four colors, plus about a cup of extra white base for adjusting the shades, if necessary.

Makes about 36 cookies
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Frosting Ingredients:
9 cups (or more) powdered sugar (about 2 1/4 pounds)
4 1/2 tablespoons Just Whites (pasteurized powdered egg whites)*
12 tablespoons (or more) water
Assorted food colorings, preferably Wilton concentrated gel pastes in Golden Yellow, Violet, Moss Green, Red (No Taste) and Sky Blue**
4 (or more) small disposable pastry bags**
Plain round metal tips (1/16 to 1/8 inch in diameter; optional)**

Cookie Preparation:
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg over; stir to blend well. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently 1 minute. Shape dough into 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 4 equal pieces; wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter large baking sheet. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness, lifting and turning dough often and dusting surface very lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Using floured 3- to 4-inch cutters, cut out cookies. Pull away excess dough from around cookies. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart (cookies will not spread). If using cookies as hanging ornaments, push 1 end of drinking straw through dough near top of each cookie; lift straw, then remove small dough round from straw. Gently reroll dough scraps; cut out more cookies. Transfer to same sheet. Bake cookies until light brown, about 11 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on sheet. Transfer cookies to rack; cool.

Frosting Prep:
Whisk 9 cups sugar and powdered egg whites in large bowl to blend. Whisk in 12 tablespoons water. If necessary, whisk in more water by teaspoonfuls or more sugar by tablespoonfuls until frosting is medium-thick and very smooth. Place 1/2 cup frosting into each of 4 small bowls; mix colors using instructions in box on previous page. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover bowls and remaining frosting with plastic wrap to keep frosting from drying out. Store at room temperature.)
Thin frosting in each bowl as needed by mixing in 1/4 teaspoon water at a time.
Using pastry brush or small metal offset spatula, spread frosting on cookies; set cookies aside and let frosting dry, about 30 minutes.
Cut off small tip from end of 1 disposable pastry bag (cut off slightly more if planning to insert metal tip). Fold down top 2 inches of bag, forming collar. Holding bag under collar and using small rubber spatula, fill bag with 1 color of frosting. Repeat with remaining pastry bags, filling each with 1 color of frosting.
Finish each cookie with two sprinkles of Vanilla sea salt.

No comments:

Post a Comment