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It’s that time of year when I consider what traditional recipes to make and what new ones or new approaches to use.  We’ve had cookie cutters for as far back as I can remember.  Mom had a whole bunch that I think were Tupperware and I remember we tried them, unsuccessfully, a few times.  My Mom made everything we ate from scratch but speed and taste were her emphasis not making an edible work of art so rolling, cutting and decorating cookies was not something we did.

For the past couple of years near Christmas my kids have invited some of their friends over to cut and decorate cookies.  Truthfully, I was the only one rolling and cutting and I don’t particularly enjoy it.  Naturally, this year when contemplating what different approaches to use, especially since my kids are away at college, I wondered if using a cookie stamp or cookie press might be easier.  I didn’t want to buy any bulky machinery or spend much money in case I didn’t like the results.  When I read that cookie stamps are great for children to use, I thought “then they are perfect for me!”  I ordered from Amazon the set of 6 holiday cookie stamps by Gourmac and one gingerbread boy cookie stamp by Rycraft.  I bought these two different kinds so I could test them and learn which kind was easier to use.

All week I researched cookie recipes that do well with cookie stamps.  All the suggestions indicated for best results I should use a recipe that does not have baking powder or soda in it because the cookies won’t rise much, which would minimize the stamped image.  I finally settled on a recipe I found in allrecipes.

Shortbread Cookies II by Sally

Ingredients

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla; add flour and mix well.
  3. Put through cookie press and form cookies onto baking sheets. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

The recipe was easy to make primarily because I used our Kitchenaide mixer and even it was getting a workout.  If you don’t have a heavy duty mixer your arms are going to ache from mixing this very stiff dough.  But you need a dough that is cold and firm for stamping.  I prepared the stamps as the instructions indicated and floured them before and in between uses.  Instead of rolling the dough flat, I made the dough into walnut sized balls then flattened each one with a cookie stamp.  The Gourmac cookie stamps are significantly easier to use.  Since they are clear you can readily tell if you’ve pressed sufficiently and they don’t stick as much as the Ryncraft.

The stamped cookie dough looked great but once they cooked they looked boring.  So, I still needed to decorate them.  I tried several different methods, including:

  • sprinkling colored sugar on them after they were cooked
  • making sure my stamp was greasy then dipping it in colored sugar before stamping
  • rolling the balls of dough in colored, plain and brown sugar before stamping
  • using egg white with food coloring to paint the cookies after they were cooked

I think the best looking cookies are the ones where the cookie stamp I used was greasy enough so that when I dipped the stamp in colored sugar it stayed on well enough to transfer to the cookie dough when I stamped it.  If I were a good painter, the egg whites with food coloring added would probably provide a prettier decorated cookie.

Is using a cookie stamp easier than using a cookie cutter?  I didn’t have to roll and cut the dough and there was no swearing while making the cookies.  So, that seems to qualify for easier.  I can see how the stamps would be easier to use with kids, which make these a possibility for becoming family tradition.

These cookies smelled absolutely amazing while they were cooking and they are scrumptious!  Another reason they can become a family tradition.  I’m not thrilled with their looks but they look as well as any others I’ve decorated.  I think it’s fair to say that I do take after my Mom by only baking things that are quick and tasty.

Click to enlarge, then zoom

 

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