September 13, 2007
OK, so yes, I skipped lunch yesterday. I know, I know, it’s not right, but I’d just wrapped up a cookie-baking session with Jeanne, Chloë, and Desirée. These three girls have spent the past month running around town like street urchins out of some 1950’s French film—making up games, doing endless series of cartwheels and occasionally, ringing my doorbell for a quick visit over apple juice (I can’t exactly serve two 11-year-olds and an 8-year-old coffee … see post from Aug. 29). Because they go back to school tomorrow, I decided to invite them over for an oh-so-American treat: baking cookies. So I told them to come over around 11.
I decided we’d do sugar cookies and unwittingly hit on the perfect pre-meal choice. Between rolling out the dough, selecting the shapes, decorating with sprinkles and so forth, there wasn’t much time to over-indulge in their creations—or even think about trying. After a two-hour session, they each had a plateful of hearts, teddy bears, maple leaves, and flowers to take home and had only eaten one cookie apiece. Since Jeanne and Désirée were headed off to lunch at their grandmother’s, I was especially glad they hadn’t ruined their appetite. Their dad might forgive me, but a grandma who’s spent all morning making a special meal would never forget. And the girls won’t ever need to know that the very same person who was keeping a watchful eye over their cookie consumption sat down and scarfed down five or six after she’d sent them on their way!
Finally, I’d like to share the recipe I used to make the cookies because it’s easy, keeps three or four days in the fridge, freezes well, doesn’t stick like some other sugar cookie recipes, and can be re-rolled several times without getting tough.
makes about 36 cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk.
2. Beat sugar and butter in mixing bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in egg, then buttermilk mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture, and beat until soft dough forms. Divide dough in half, shape into 2 disks, and seal in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray. Roll out 1 dough disk to 1/3-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheet. Decorate as desired. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough disk, and store cooled cookies in airtight container.
—Mary Margaret Chappell, Food Editor