December 15, 2008

Not Like Mom Used to Make

My mom makes the best sugar cookies. I am sure your mom makes some type of delicious dessert, perhaps even sugar cookies. But I can assure you that my mom makes the best sugar cookies. Ever.

Christmas is always the best time of year for almost any child. Presents and candy and songs and pretty dresses and all that. Secretly though, I also loved it because it was the time of year when my mom would make her sugar cookies. These cookies I believe were actually my grandma's recipe, but in the years my mom's had the recipe, she's mastered it. I cannot stress enough how good they are.

As much as I love these cookies, I had never attempted to make them on my own. I'd helped my mom on occasion, my sister and I offering our sifting or rolling skills. And of course, there was always the matter of decorating. We were master decorators. Sprinkles, red hots, icing, you name it, we could decorate with it.

I have not done a lot of baking in recent years. The main reason for this is my last two apartment kitchens were so old, I don't think I could have fit a baking sheet in the tiny ovens. Not to mention, they just looked like fire hazards. This year though, I am living in Mike's place, on his kitchen surrounded by cherry wood cabinets and stainless steel appliances. It's heaven. So if there were ever a year to tackle my mom's sugar cookies it was this year.

This past Sunday, I took out my mom's recipe and followed it to a tee. But that is not to say it was without mishaps.

My first problem came with mixing. I added the egg, sour cream, butter, sugar and mixed with Mike's electric mixer. No problem.

And then I slowly added the flour mixture I had previously sifted. I added bit by bit and by the time I got to the last of the flour, the mixer was barely moving under the weight of the dough. Then it stopped all together and started to smoke. It was at this point that I remembered there was a mixing part in the recipe that involved a wooden spoon, not electric mixer.

I put the mixer on the concrete back step (less of a fire hazard)...

... and grabbed a wooden spoon.

The next step was easy. I let the dough refrigerate for a five hours.

The day before I picked up all the appropriate supplies at the grocery store. I needed a sifter, a rolling pin, a big cookie sheet and lots of cookie cutters. The cookie cutter supply was disappointing, to say the least. The store only had Christmas trees so that was the only shape I could make. I made up for it by buying different color sprinkles and sugars.

The first batch of cookies went into the oven and I set my kitchen timer. When the minute warning beeped, I started to smell the cookies. But by the time I got them out, the bottoms were burned. Completely burned.
I threw those out, considering them a test run. I got the next batch ready, put them in the oven and set my timer for two minutes less than the first batch. They turned out so much better. And by so much better, I mean edible.

I repeated this a few more times to great results and in the end wound up with about 30 cookies to take into work. I tried one of my cookies this morning just to make sure they were edible, and they tasted OK. Only OK because they didn't taste as good as my mom's. There's something to that special mom touch I wasn't able to recreate. It's probably all the years of wisdom gained from outsmarting your kids. That and maybe better sugar.

I plan to make these cookies again but I'll tweak the recipe slightly. Next time I'll use granulated sugar and try to ground fresh nutmeg. That makes the difference according to my sister. I still don't think they will taste as good as my mom's cookies, but I'll get as close as I can. Even if I don't, they are apparently better than edible because my co-workers devoured them today.

This is all that's left. Just some crumbs and sprinkles.


Kristin said...

Good on ya!! (a new Aussi term i have been waiting to use :))

Seriously, I applaud your efforts and your posting. It is not easy to take on such a holy grail of cooking (aka a mom's signature cookie).

Keep on posting the cooking subject it!!

kelsalynn said...

I had a long comment in here about ovens and baking times and how your mom's a pro and her first batch probably looked just like yours and blah, blah, blah... stupid computer didn't save it.

This is all you get instead. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Practice is the only thing that helps with this recipe. It came from a my huge recipe book that I got when I was seventeen. Some of the secrets I have learned I can share when you are home at Christmas. And since I never take the time anymore if you want and there is time maybe we can try to do a batch. Love always Madre