Monday, May 31, 2010

How the Cookie Crumbles: Sour Cream Vanilla Cookies



I wish that there was a Nobel category for great inventions because there are a few people I’d like to nominate for making our lives so much easier. First and foremost I’d like to nominate the person that thought of putting wheels on the bottom of suitcases…GENIUS! I can’t tell you how many back aches and how much money in airport porter tips these little wheels have saved me.

Next I’d like to nominate the inventor of the microwave oven just on the merits of baked potatoes alone. My children were in awe of the fact that we used to have to plan a day in advance if we wanted to have a stuffed baked potato with a steak; so the brilliant person who freed us all from baked potato bondage earns my #2 spot.

The #3 spot belongs to the inventor of Colour Catcher sheets. They have put an end to accidental pink underwear castrophies in my house. I'm sending my daughter back to college with a boat load of these babies.

My #4 space is occupied by whoever invented the personal computer. I don’t think I even have to expand on the importance of this one although this invention does come with its challenges. Challenges like why does a Spanish translation pop up when I point my curser at anything?! Oh well, maybe I need to learn the twenty Spanish words for “save.”

Coming in at a close #5 is Mr. Poppin’ Fresh or whoever thought of putting cookie dough in a tube. For those of us who don’t enjoy stirring up cookie dough and baking in excruciating batches, this was a major culinary advancement.

Speaking of cookies, last night I decided to do something a bit different and bake a batch of cookies from scratch for my blog. Something most people don’t know about me is that I don’t like… no, let’s be honest; I am a cookie baking hater. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating them, I just think that there are so many good store bought versions out there, why should I get involved in the mechanics of it all.

Last night I was reminded of why I feel this way. My dough making went well enough. I thought it’d be really cute to use some of the vintage pig shaped cookie cutters that my step mom gave me years ago, put a real effort into icing and photographing them and unveil them here. Long story short, cream cheese icing doesn’t work when you use the fat free cream cheese you mistakenly bought at Wal-Mart.

By this time I was fed up and pissed off so I grabbed my keys and headed to the supermarket for more ingredients and a can of ready made frosting, just in case. By the time I got home, I mixed up the new batch of icing, couldn’t find my pink food coloring so I used a color called Paprika (sounded like pink) which resulted in an unappealing fleshy orange/pink. Finally, after throwing batch #2 away, I iced some round ones that I had cut out, smeared the canned icing that I had so wisely purchased and called it good enough; and good enough they were, but they could have been so fantastic with that homemade frosting.

Even with my comedy of errors, this recipe turned out just delicious and all you cookie baking haters like me will find the results satisfying. The cookies are thick, soft and tender yet slightly crispy around the edges. Maybe next time I’ll add a drop or two of orange extract or some zest for something new. That is if there is a next time.




Soured Cream Vanilla Cookies

Cookies:
1-1/2 cups (225g) granulated sugar
8 ounces (226g) butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) soured cream
5 cups (750g) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and mix together with an electric mixer on medium high until smooth. Add the vanilla, eggs (one at a time) and soured cream; mix well; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Mix into the wet mixture 1/4 at a time until it is completely combined, resulting in a thick dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 375 degrees and dust a clean dry surface with flour and roll out dough to 1/4” thickness. The proper thickness is really important here. If they are much thicker or thinner, you will have to adjust your cooking time so if you want a different thickness, watch closely until you figure it out. Dip your favorite cookie cutter in flour and cut cookies and place them on non-stick cookie sheet. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 8 – 10 minutes or until cookies are light brown around the edges. Cool before icing (recipe follows).

Icing:
8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons condensed milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups (520g) icing sugar

Combine cream cheese, butter, condensed milk, vanilla extract and salt in a small bowl, mix well before adding sugar one cup at a time with an electric mixer. Spread on cooled cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or colored sugar.

This recipe makes a lot of icing. Since I prefer using just a thin coating on my cookies, I had quite a bit left over. If you are like me, you might want to reduce the amount of ingredients by 1/4, but if you like decorating have fun because you will definitely have enough.

Makes approximately 36 large cookies.
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