Monday, January 16, 2012

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Cookie

Christmas is all about giving and thinking about others, so why can't we incorporate a whole lot of cute into the giving?

At least, that was my thought when my mom asked me to bake her some cookies to take to work. My sister joined in the request. So now I had two workplaces expecting Christmas cookies. I had to do something different, something people will enjoy, something fun, something that will stand out.

That was when I was e-mailed via newsletter a Rudolph Christmas Sugar cookie recipe. The reindeer shaped cookies were cute and fun. Chocolate chips, pretzels, sugar cookies, who wouldn't love all these things? It was given the mother stamp of approval and I started to plan.

The original recipe calls for just using plain, refrigerated sugar cookie dough. I'm not really a refrigerated sugar cookie dough girl, unless that dough is made by my own hands. So I dug into my stockpile to pull out The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies recipe.

No really. That's what the recipe is called. That made me giggle the first time I saw it, but it isn't false advertising. Although you want to be sure to refrigerate it for quite a while (I did mine overnight) these sugar cookies are fantastic and easier to maneuver than most.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened (feel free to do half butter, half margarine, that's what I usually do)
 2 cups white granulated sugar
 4 eggs
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 5 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1 teaspoon salt

 1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.

 2. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Slowly stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. I recommend doing the flour cup by cup, since it's a lot.

 3. Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (Recommended: Overnight.)

Now here my directions incorporate both the design of the reindeer cookies and the temperature and time of the sugar cookies. Feel free to use the sugar cookie recipe for just shapes or whatever else you'd like to do with it - it's extremely versatile. But for the reindeer you'll need pretzels (either alphabet shaped, twists, or something you can break into antler shapes), mini or regular sized chocolate chips, and red cinnamon candies or red m&ms.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Flour the surface and flour your hands. If you like it extra sugary feel free to use a little powdered sugar in your hands while you knead the dough. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness - estimate it, just so it's not super thick.

6. Cut out the dough using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Places circles two inches apart on a baking sheet (using either parchment paper or a quick spray on the sheet).

7. Now here's the hard part. Pinch about 2/3rds down the circle with your fingers to shape the face. It should be kind of hour-glassy. Look at photos to get an idea for the shape, then have fun - they don't have to be anatomically correct.

8. Break your pretzels into antler shapes. This is frustrating. I used a knife, but wished I had bought the alphabet kinds to make those work. Whatever you find that will work best, go with it.

9. Bake on higher rack for 6 to 8 minutes or until the sides are just lightly browned.

10. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute. Place on a rack or somewhere to cool. Here you have to carefully place the chocolate chips on. Make sure you get it right the first time and don't touch them. They will be a bit melty, but you need to put them on before the cookie completely cools so it can harden onto the face. Place a cinnamon candy or M&M at the bottom for the nose. Now cool them completely and enjoy.

Packaging up these cookies might be a little hard, but the people at work will devour them and talk about how cute they are. So really, all the fuss is totally worth it. My favorite part was biting into an eye and an antler at the same time with the sweet, the chocolate, and the salty pretzel all at once. Yum. Don't feel too bad either, you know it isn't the real Rudolph.

- Mollie

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