The Bookakery hosted its first official event a few weeks ago but it wasn’t for kids. Instead we decided to focus on a group that loves spoiling kids: Grandmas!
In honor of Grandparents’ Day we held a small Grandma’s Tea to test out some recipes, share our love of children’s books and most importantly, celebrate the grandmas.
We went with a tried and true sugar cookie recipe for our main treat, but with a little twist to make them special for the tea. These are some of my favorite cookies (ok, I’ll admit I have a lot of favorite cookies) for multiple reasons: I love the hint of lemon & almond in them, you can eat them plain, decorate them nicely of use them as a fun project with kids. Sterling and I love using this recipe around the holidays together to make Christmas Cookies for our friends (check out the Royal Icing recipe if you are going to do this). From start to finish sugar cookies do take a good amount of time so I always try to space out the process over a day or more. You’ll need time to make the dough, chill the dough, roll, cut and bake the cookies, let them cool and finally decorate the cookies.
For our tea we left the cookie cutters and icing to the side and went a bit more rustic with hand cut cookies dipped in chocolate ganache (the same ganache we used for our Minty Devil cake). The end result of cookie teabags ended up being both a great decoration and a tasty treat and we left a few plain ones that were perfect for dipping in all the delicious teas.
2 cups butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
6 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the rest of the wet ingredients and mix just until blended. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Slowly add in the dry ingredients a cup at a time into the bowl with the wet ingredients, mixing after each cup is added. If you do not have a dough hook for your mixer you will need to end up mixing in the last few cups with your hands as normal mixer attachments will get stuck in the think dough.
Divide the dough into 3-4 chunks and roll them into big balls and then press them down a little into circles. Wrap each circle in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least four hours. I used to just chill my sugar cookie dough in one big mass in the fridge the same way you would with chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie doughs and always had difficulty rolling it out after chilling it. Once I started separating it into workable sections and flattening it a bit before chilling it became so much easier to roll. I now do this for any cookie dough that needs rolling (thinking ahead to gingerbread…).
Now that it’s chilled take out one circle and let it sit out for about 5 mins to soften just a little. I know, it seems like two steps forward one step back but trust me, it works. While the dough is sitting out, turn you oven on to 375 degrees, coat your work space and rolling pin with a dusting of flour and get you cookie sheets ready to go. Roll out your dough to about a quarter inch thickness (and invest in a heavy rolling pin if you plan on doing this often) and then start cutting your cookies and placing them on the cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for about 5-6 mins (the time will vary based on the size and thickness of your cookies and the accuracy of your oven). I set my timer for 5 mins and then add more time if needed. You don’t really want the cookies to brown, just to have a touch of golden coloring at the corners.
Once your cookies have cooled you can eat them plain (or dip them in your tea or coffee), or decorate them with buttercream frosting or royal icing, or dip them in chocolate. I’ve included the Royal Icing recipe below since this is my main go to for sugar cookies when kids are decorating but will add links to the other options as they are loaded.
A few hints for great cookies:
– Try to roll your dough as evenly as possible to avoid the cookies baking at different speeds
– Once you have a sheet full of cut out cookies place it bake in the fridge for 5 mins BEFORE baking. This quick chill will help all your cookies keep their fun shapes
– Only roll out the same chunk of dough 2-3 times before rolling it back into a ball/circle and putting it back into the fridge to
– Once you get going there are a lot of parts that take 5-6 mins (un-chilling the dough, rolling and cutting, re-chilling & baking) so you can start to get in a flow and get them done quickly once you start
– If you want to avoid the hassle of rolling out dough, take out a circle of dough and cut the edges with a sharp knife to make a rectangle and cut it in half to end up with two long skinny rectangles. Cut 1/4 inch slices off the rectangles to end up with small rectangle cookies.
I like to use royal icing with sugar cookies because it dries hard and smooth and you can then stack or bag the cookies without messing them up. It’s also a good choice when decorating with kids because you can put the icing in squeeze bottles to help them have more control over their designs and a little less mess. You can also get really fancy and use different thicknesses and let colors dry and then add more to get some very fancy designs…but we’ll save that lesson for another day.
1 cup water
6 tablespoons of meringue powder (available online or at stores like Sur La Table)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 pound bag powdered sugar
Mix the water and meringue powder with a mixer until slightly foamy. Then add in the extracts and just mix for a second. Mix in all of the powdered sugar (on low until incorporated and then for a few mins on high. It will become fairly stiff. Split the icing into separate bowls and add food coloring as desired. Depending on how you want to use (spread on cookies, in a squeeze bottle, or to make detailed designs) you may want to play with the thickness by adding a teaspoon or less of water at a time, if it becomes too runny just stir in a little powdered sugar. Spread or pipe icing on to cookies and let dry (or let kids pour on sprinkles while wet) and then enjoy!