Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Visions of Sugar Cookies

If you went to school with me or go to church with me or work with my husband, you know that I like to bake. Actually, I think I like the baking even more than the eating (which is why most of my product goes to work with Steve.) However, my baking prowess is nothing compared to that of my Nanny, professional maker of all things sweet and yummy. When I think of childhood trips to Maryland, I think of Cool Whip containers packed full of fudge for the long ride home and bags of sugar cookies that I would ration out for days just to make them last. Dinner at her house is always punctuated by fudgy Texas sheet cake or "Green Stuff" (I actually have no idea what it's called, just that it involves massive amounts of pistachio pudding and Cool Whip.) So, back in April when we went to Maryland, Nanny and I set aside a day just for making sugar cookies. I had never attempted my favorite of her cookie confections, and I was determined to master the art of Nanny's soft, doughy sugar cookies.

Fast forward to December. Months have gone by, and still no sugar cookies have been made in my kitchen. First I had to acquire the right cookie sheets that were just like Nanny's. (I did that months ago.) Then there was the small problem of not owning a rolling pin. (What can I say? I'm not a pie person, and therefore had never bought one.) I acquired a rolling pin just before Thanksgiving, and my excuses were dwindling. Last week almost saw me attempting the cookies only to realize that I couldn't find any of my old cookie cutters. (They must not have survived one of my many moves.) Finally last night, two days before leaving on another trip to Maryland, I made my very first solo attempt at Nanny's sugar cookies. I mentally prepared myself for disappointment while still hoping for the best, and with camera in hand, I dove fearlessly into the world's stickiest cookie dough.

Overall, I would have to say that things went smoothly. There were a few hiccups. Due to circumstances at least partially out of my control, I wasn't able to start until late, which meant that I couldn't leave the dough in the fridge for a few hours to stiffen up. The problem? You have to use more flour to keep the dough from sticking to everything, and the cookies lose some of their famous softness. I was a little worried about this, but I decided to forge ahead. Another problem? Target didn't have any plain, round cookie cutters, so I had to use these little snowflake/poinsettia Christmas numbers. Very cute in cookie cutter form, not so much in a sugar cookie. I now have two bags of what look like red and green Christmas starfish. I guess we're having a little Yuletide Under the Sea at the Gray house.

Apart from the flour issue and the apparent Little Mermaid theme, however, the cookies turned out pretty well. They were puffy and doughy and soft like Nanny's. Okay, maybe they weren't quite as soft as Nanny's, but to the inexperienced eater, I'm sure they're quite perfect. If you never tasted the pillowy goodness that is Nanny's sugar cookies, I'm certain that mine taste quite superior to their local peers. Tomorrow, though, it's on to Maryland. I'm taking a bag of my underwater beauties with me for two reasons. 1. To prove that I did, in fact, attempt Nanny's cookies. She did, after all, take the time to show me how. 2. To have them taste tested by the experts. No holding back, people. I need you Nanny connoisseurs to lay it on the line and make the hard criticisms. I can take it.

What's next in my quest to become the Frances Lantz of the Greer set? Nanny's Fudge - my first time with a candy thermometer...should make an entertaining blog even if the fudge is inedible.