From Lisa Barnes
I learned a lesson from my cupcake drama for the next birthday celebration (this time with family and friends at the beach), and made cookies. After being tired of cupcakes and second guessing myself, I went to get help from Cake Art in San Rafael. They sell fun cookies cutters, cake pans, colds, sprinkles, colorings, frostings, and every other gadget and accessory for decorating and creating lovely sweet treats. Plus they are so helpful and nice and will walk you through any project or idea. On an interesting note, the store is located right next to a diet center (which doesn’t seem fair for the diet clients).
Anyways…my kids are crabs – meaning born under the sign of cancer. So with a beach theme and venue, Cake Art helped me with crab and starfish cookie cutters, royal icing ideas and pre-made eyes, squeeze bottles and sprinkles. I used a favorite sugar cookie recipe from Better Homes and Garden Cookbook (see abbreviated and slightly altered recipe below) and baked them two days in advance. My mom came to visit for the weekend of the party and we had a fun (and competitive) time frosting the cookies (the night before of course). She did stars and I did crabs. They all came out really sweet looking and tasted great. Besides that they were easy to tote to the beach and we didn’t have to worry about getting sand in our frosting (like if we had cake or cupcakes). Of course there was one of my son’s friends that said “where’s the cake?” I just smiled and gave him a crab cookie. End of story (and birthdays).
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
This is a good basic sugar cookie recipe and one that works for all seasons. Kids can help dump the measured ingredients in the mixing bowl and turn on and off the electric mixer to help make dough. Of course the fun really begins with the help of choosing and cutting shapes and icing and decorating at the end. Enjoy!
2/3 cups unsalted organic butter softened
3/4 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 organic egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds. Add sugar, powder and salt and beat until combined. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until combined. Beat in flour 1/4 cup at a time until all is incorporated.
Cover and chill dough at least 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place one inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake in oven for 7 – 9 minutes until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool these can be frosted with your favorite royal or powdered sugar icing. Of course sprinkles never hurt either.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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