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  1. Christmas Cookies and Smiling Faces

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    The many faces of Aria. She's turning into quite the little model. 
    She knows to smile now when I point the camera at her and say, "smile", but of course the best shots are candid. 

    I made Christmas cookies! I use the same recipe my mom uses which is delicious because it has hints of nutmeg and cinnamon in it. I also made royal icing for the first time. I found meringue powder at Target and was so excited to try making royal icing.

    This recipe makes a large amount, I always make this much or more so that I can make a few cookies and then freeze the rest of the dough until I want to use it again.

    Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
    - one cup unsalted butter
    - two cups white sugar
    - four eggs
    - five cups of flour
    - three teaspoons baking powder
    - two teaspoons vanilla extract
    - half teaspoon of cinnamon
    - half teaspoon of nutmeg
    - half teaspoon of salt

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
    Cream butter and sugar together thoroughly.
    Beat in eggs until light and fluffy.
    Sift dry ingredients together into a separate bowl and then gradually blend into butter mixture.
    Add vanilla.
    Chill dough at least three hours.
    Roll to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured surface. 
    Cut out desired shapes and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
    Bake for 20 minutes.
    Cookies should be barely golden on the bottom and look just baked when they come out of the oven.
    Let cool for five minutes on the baking sheet until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Keep unbaked dough cold, unused dough freezes well.

    Royal Icing
    adapted from Joy of Baking

    - four cups powdered sugar
    - three tablespoons meringue powder
    - half a teaspoon extract (I used peppermint)
    - 3/4 cup warm water

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the powdered sugar and meringue powder together until well combined. Add in the water and extract and beat at medium to high speed until very glossy, stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water.

    The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.

    Makes about three cups.


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