Recipe Monday: Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

I needed to share what I did all weekend- as previously mentioned I work from home for a great company called Square One Interiors. My boss likes to make homemade baked goods for her clients for Christmas- she is so creative she does custom silver paint cans and fills them with an assortment of goodies. SO... I was in charge of the sugar cookie portion of the gift- 160 of them to be exact (that is 10 batches!)! I have made sugar cookies in the past- but I have never focused on making them pretty- slice and bake works fine for me! So after I offered to make the sugar cookies I had a little moment of panic- they have to 1 )look good 2) taste good  and 3) be able to stack in the cans without the icing getting ruined. I did some SERIOUS online research- and found this post: HERE. It is exactly what I needed- step by step instructions to making the perfect shapes! 
Here are the important points from her article:
- use superfine sugar or blend the sugar in the blender first 
- mix dry ingredients first, then add butter 1T at a time in the mixer, then other ingredients
- refrigerate balls ..then roll out.. then refrigerate.. then cut.. then bake
- bake for 10 minutes only- even if they dont look done- pull them out. They were so soft and delightful! 

I then researched the perfect icing- it needed to a) harden b) be pretty and shiny and c) taste good...really good! 

I found this recipe from HERE, however I changed it to this: 
Shiny/Hard/Yummy Cookie Icing: 
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1T milk (and added more until it was smooth)
1T Light corn syrup (I had to add more of this too to get the right consistency and "shine")
1/4t Almond Extract
1t Vanilla Extract (and added a bit more to taste)

Here is the Cookie Recipe I used suggested from THIS BLOG:

Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookies (Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
Recipe says it will yield approximately 3 dozen cookies. I doubled the recipe & got 32 cookies with my cookie cutters. The amount of cookies will definitely depend on your cookie cutter sizes!
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar (just whipped 1 cup sugar in the food processor until it was blended and then measured out 3/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces & softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, sugar, & salt together in a large bowl. Beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, then continue to beat until the mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the cream cheese & vanilla until he dough just begins to form large clumps, about thirty seconds.
Knead the dough in the large bowl by hand a few times until it forms a large, cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide it in half, and apt into a two four inch disks. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375. Work with one disk at a time, roll out the dough to a 1/8″ thickness between two sheets of parchment paper. Slide the rolled dough and parchment onto a baking sheet & refrigerate again until firm.
Working with one
sheet of dough at a time cut out shapes using cookie cutters and lay on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 1″ apart. Bake the cookies until light golden brown, about ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, about thirty minutes. When cooled, the cookies can be decorated as desired.

Here are a few pics of my "process": 

{My sister-in-law is a great cook and she taught me to always leave the butter out to get to soft instead of microwave- this is A LOT of butter!}

{This was my first time blending the sugar- they turned out great- so I will keep doing this!}

{This was a little trick I discovered after the 4th batch :) I draped a towel over the KitchenAid..since I did dry first and then butter- it helped with the "spray" of flour.}

{I MEAN...this is the first time I have ever made Sugar cookies where I could tell what shape the cookies were supposed to be- SUCCESS! They really were delightful!}

{I spent over 9 hours in the kitchen this weekend- most of which included looking down to this- they always need a LOT of snuggle time when we are busy dont they?!? How could I resist- I am good at the one arm icing!}

{I crushed up candy canes and put them on the wet icing- those were definitely the best- YUMM!}

{As you can see I tried MANY options- red, green, red sprinkle on white icing, green sprinkle on white icing, candy cane, etc.. I finally concluded with- big stars got the candy cane and little ones got sprinkles- I am just a white icing kind of girl!}

{I ADORE the Candy Cane cookies- I cannot tell you how yummy they are..if I say so myself!}

{I had this whole little Sunday School lesson for the girls on this little broken cookie- "you know this time of year there are so many pretty, good things and we are consumed with those things and ourselves but what we need to look for are the little "broken cookies" among us- they might blend in...but if you look close enough you will see that they are broken and they need some extra love and attention...etc...." those lessons go totally lost on my girls- they usually interrupt with something like.."um mom, can I have a snack bar?" I just have to tell myself- build a foundation, build a foundation- otherwise I would go nuts! ANYWAY...} 

{Here are my pretty little guys- can you tell that I committed to stars and didn't look back?}

{I mean...I am a little prideful about the shape of my cookies- A LOT of effort went into that shape!}

{So...everyone else in the company chipped in as well and we came up with all of these goodies for people- AMAZING- My little cookies were so minimal- they did fudge, peanut brittle, hand dipped pretzels, cake pops, snickerdoodles, and more..so yummy! PS I think I gained 5lbs this weekend!}

SO...There you go- my lovely little cookies- I feel like I learned a new life skill this weekend!

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