I have always had a sweet tooth since back as far as I can remember. That part of the nursery rhyme about girls being made out of sugar and spice and everything nice...I took that literally. In my mind as a child, I was made out of "something nice" and needed to eat something nice occasionaly in order to remain the sweet little girl that I was. Even though I gave up the idea that fairies and unicorns existed as I grew older, the sugar and spice thing has been a hard habit to break (I'm not complaining ;)). So it comes as no surprise that being an adult, I look for any opportunity to create a sweet treat whenever I can for my family and also to share with my friends and neighbours. This week , I was searching for a good sugar cookie recipe. I wanted a soft sugar cookie and came across one that fit the bill at www.beneathmyheart.net. Below is my adaptation of her Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie recipe.
-Cookie cutter of your choice (I used a leaf-shaped cookie cutter).
-Parchment paper or Silpat (for lining your baking sheets).
-Food coloring if you decide to ice your cookies. To get the colors on my cookies, I used brown,orange and yellow gel food coloring by Wilton. These can be found in any baking supply store, or in the cake supply section of your grocery store or craft store.
-Food-grade paint brushes if you decide to paint the icing on your cookies (I used the Wilton brush set from Wal-Mart, in the cake-supply aisle).
-1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (at room temperature).
-3 Oz. package of cream cheese (at room temperature).
-1/4 teaspoon of salt.
-1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.
-1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
-2 cups all-purpose flour.
-In your mixer on low speed, blend together the sugar, margarine/butter, cream cheese, salt,almond extract, vanilla extract and egg yolk.
-Slowly mix in the flour in three parts,until well blended. Make sure to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
-Stop the mixer and make a ball out of the dough.
-Place some cling foil on your working surface, place the ball of dough on it,and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate the dough for two hours.
***Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit before you begin cutting the dough into shapes***
-Divide the dough into three parts.
-Place each ball of dough in between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper as you roll it out to prevent the dough from sticking to your work surface (roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness).
-Remove the rolled out dough from between the parchment paper and gently place it on your floured rolling pin.
-Gently transfer the rolled out dough on to a lightly floured surface to begin cutting the shapes as close to each other as possible.
-Work fast as the dough will begin to soften the more it is exposed to room temperature.
-Each time you cut a shape, dip the cutter into some dough before you cut out the next cookie.
-Place the cookies one inch apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat to protect your cookie sheets and prevent the cookies from sticking.
-Bake your cookies for 7-10 minutes until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are a light golden brown color.
-Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and use a wide spatula to gently transfer the cookies from the baking sheets to the cooling racks.
-Once cool, the cookies can be eaten as is, or you can glaze them with the almond glaze below.
***If you prefer, you can substitute the almond extract with vanilla extract****
-1 cup sifted confectioner's / powdered sugar (I made my glaze a little bit thicker by adding 2 more tablespoons of confectioner's/ powdered sugar).
-1/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract.
-2 tablespoons of water.
-mix the confectioner's sugar, the vanilla/almond flavoring and the water with a whisk, until smooth.
-To create the three colors I used on the cookies, I used orange, brown and yellow gel food coloring. I divided the glaze into three and put it into three separate bowls. I used a toothpick to scoop a little of each color into each of the bowls and blended the color and the glaze with a spoon until there was no white glaze showing.
-I used the paintbrushes to paint the glaze onto the cookies and used a leaf I found outside as my guide.
-I let the glaze completely dry up before we enjoyed the cookies. They were divine!