Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Nest Cookies

I love trying to include Matthew whenever possible in my baking or cooking projects. However, oftentimes these efforts can be frustrating and irritating. Matthew develops a sudden case of turrets when in the presence of any type of kitchen appliance or tool, needing to push every button, hold every whisk, and disassemble each piece of every machine. Many times, my attempts to include him in kitchen activities results in him being banished to the living room while I finish cooking AND pick up the debris leftover from the Hurricane Matthew.

However, cookie decorating is the one area where Matthew always is capable of consistently sitting still and helping when needed. This probably has everything to do with the fact that he is sitting in front of yummy cookies and their equally delicious toppings. But, in between stuffing his face, he takes the time to help me decorate.

When I saw these cookies on another blog, I knew that it would be an easy and fun activity for the two of us. I like to make baked goods to give away around Easter time. Normally, I make a bunch of challah and other sweet breads, but these sugar cookies looked like a cute little treat that some of my friends' children might enjoy.

The cookies are soft and pillowing like the Lofthouse cookies you can buy at the grocery store. A simple icing is whipped together and dyed green and then piped onto the surface of each cookie. Mini Robin Eggs are then gently pressed into the surface. That's it!

Matthew's job was to place the eggs on each cookie after I piped the frosting. Other than eating half the bag along the way, he did a marvelous job. I did have to stop him from eating all the blue eggs. He seemed to think they tasted better.

Easter Nest Cookies
adapted from the blog Pennies on a Platter

For the cookies:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating only until just combined. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour, or until chilled.

Line baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a tablespoon of dough (about 3/4 ounce - I did weigh mine), roll into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating once halfway through. They will not be brown at all on the sides or top. It is very important to not over-bake these cookies to ensure that they remain soft. Let cool on the baking sheet for 8 minutes, and then transfer each cookie to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:
1/3 cup butter, softened
5-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 tablespoons milk
Light green food coloring
Mini Whoppers Robin Eggs

With a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add in 5 cups of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, and the milk and mix on low speed until combined. Once combined enough so the powdered sugar will not fly up into your face, increase the speed of the mixer to medium and let the frosting beat for a good 3 minutes. Add in a few drops of food coloring until it reaches the correct hue and continue beat for about 1 more minute.

Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe, using an up and down motion, the frosting onto the surface of each cookie. Gently press 3 candy eggs onto the surface of each cookie. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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