The Cookie Challenge
Your mission: A sweet treat for the holiday season.
Your arch-nemesis: Time.
Your savior: Store-bought. That’s right – Pillsbury all.the.way.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret – with just a few fun additions, no one will ever suspect those little trifles of homemade bliss came from the refrigerated aisle at your local grocery store.
My amateur list of what you’ll need:
Store-bought pre-made sugar cookie dough
Butter or margarine
Flavored extract (orange, lemon, lavender, peppermint, etc.)
Edible glitter dust (the fine, powdered kind – I found it at Sur La Table)
Cookie Corruption Step 1: Bake It Up
Pick up a few rolls of pre-made, refrigerated sugar cookie dough at your local market. I used Pillsbury (plain) slice-and-bake sugar cookie dough. Be sure to get plain dough – none of the stuff with the pictures in the center.
Spread some flour on a clean kitchen counter and treat the dough as you would homemade – smoosh it and work it into a ball. Make sure you keep it well-floured so it doesn’t stick.
Roll the dough ball out with a floured rolling pin to the thickness noted on the package. Flour a few of your favorite cookie cutters and get to cuttin’. Do this until there’s no more dough left to work with; more than likely there will be a bit left over – I went ahead and ate the leftovers, but that’s totally not required.
Anyway, follow the instructions on the package for baking. Be sure to keep plenty of space on the cookie sheet between the unbaked cookies so they don’t grow together in the oven. This happened to me, so I thought I would warn you.
Step 2: Frosting Fix
Now, this is the secret weapon part – the part that will make your sugar cookies stand out above all the rest this holiday season.
While the cookies are baking, make a concoction of powdered sugar, margarine (or butter), and a dash of milk. Mix until ultra thick. Add more milk if too thick, more sugar if too runny. I measured all the ingredients to taste – just remember to keep the level of margarine/butter reasonable or the flavor can be overwhelming.
Next, instead of using plain ol’ vanilla extract in the frosting, add a dash of a more exotic extract to the mix. I used orange extract because I’m a HUGE fan of orange scones, etc., and it seemed holiday-ish.
Start by adding just a drop or two and then mix and taste; these extracts can punch you in the face with flavor, so don’t use too much – a tiny, tiny bit will do the trick.
Now, add the edible glitter dust to the mix. Go ahead, just dump it all in. I used the iridescent dust in my frosting, but there’s also pink, gold, and other pretties to pick from. Mix the frosting until the dust looks evenly distributed.
Step 3: The Pretty Package
At this point, your first batch of cookies should be about done. Let them cool for a bit and then frost. Let the frosting dry before stacking, packaging, or putting plastic wrap over it.
These cookies should end up delicious with a touch of unexpected flavor and a magical sheen that will totally impress friends and family.
If you want to take it to the next level, buy some small treat bags and ribbon. After the frosting dries, drop a few of the cookies in each treat bag and tie off with the pretty ribbon.
Finally, to test all your hard work, and to congratulate yourself on your cookie perfection, eat a couple of these mini wonders. Mmm … delish!
– Kelly, hayneedle.com editor