Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sugar Cookies and Cupcake Walks

It's been a bit of a baking fury here over the last week. We had the Valentine's cupcake walk which saw volunteer parents bring in over 400 cupcakes to the school for the kids to play for. I had fun whipping up some quick and hopefully cute cupcakes to donate to the walk. I had some white cake mix that needed to be used up and jazzed it up a bit by adding 1 tbsp of coloured sprinkles into the batter. (Well..... I thought it looked more fun that way) I substituted half of the cream in my basic butter cream recipe for 1/4 cup raspberry jam and a few drops of red food colouring to add a little more flavour. (If you use conversation heart to top your cupcakes.....put them on just before you need them because they will absorb moisture from the icing)
It was the usual cake walk rules where you walk around the numbered spots of the circle to music and stop on the nearest number when the music stops and several winning numbers are pulled. This year we changed it up a bit by letting those whose numbers were not pulled to remain in the circle to play again and again, only filling the spots of the winners who had left the circle. Two years running the DH has insisted on creating a music track for the cupcake walk, starting with the 'Cuppy Cake Song' and including all the newest and hottest music.....all edited for bad language. He is the ultimate Cupcake walk DJ, and the kids seem to like his choices. He is really in tough with 5-10 year old music scene:) Through the lunch break we managed to put through 300 players all happy to claim their cupcake prize at the end. The money raised went back to the school to help purchase food supplies that are kept on hand for children who have not brought enough to eat on any given day. We are very lucky to have a very supportive parent community at our school. I had thought about putting a sugar cookie heart into the top of each cupcake rather that the conversation heart I ended up using........but the cookie dough sat ready and waiting in the fridge after I decided to not make this a more time consuming endeavour than it needed to be.
After the walk was over, I still had this batch of dough that needed dealing with so I did eventually bake them up. Plus it was a good opportunity to use some new cookie cutters I picked up on my last trip through IKEA. I must say...they are pretty darned adorable...there's a moose, fox, bear, hedgehog, snail, and a sweet little squirrel that I'm nuts about! I'm pretty pleased with this inexpensive purchase. It will be well used I'm sure. I absolutely love this sugar cookie recipe too. It is one that come on a package of cheap dollar store Easter cutters many years ago, and have yet to taste a better one.......dollar store....go figure! It's easy, dependable and delicious if I do say so myself. I have made this recipe for years usually changing the icing flavour to match the colour. For Halloween it is usually anise black bats and black cats, vanilla ghosts, orange pumpkins etc. Christmas is the only time I don't use this sugar at that time I always make Egg Nog flavoured Sugar Cookies from a recipe that my good friend Jeannie gave me some time ago. (Also a really good one) This sugar cookie recipe also keeps extremely well and the cookies are kept somewhat soft by the icing. They will keep very well for a week in a tightly sealed tin.........if you can stop eating them that is... Go on...make some they are really good!
Sugar Cookie Recipe (Right off the Dollar Store Package of Easter Cutters)

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp orange juice (although I used mango this time and I think I liked it better)
1 tsp almond extract (this time I used orange extract since they were coming to school)
2 1/2 cups flour

Mix first six ingredients with electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually stir in flour until well mixed. (I use the stand mixer because I'm lazy but you can do it by hand) Chill 2 to 3 hours in the refrigerator (it's quite a soft dough) until firm enough to roll out. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out half of the dough at a time on a well floured board. (turning and re flouring as needed so it doesn't stick) Roll out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and cut with cutters and transfer to a non stick baking sheet. Scraps re roll very well, just knead in any flour well before re rolling. Always use a nonstick sheet or use parchment or they will stick badly. Bake 6-10 minutes until the edges of the cookies are beginning to get golden. Remove and let sit on cookie sheet 1 minute before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool. Once cool decorate with Sugar Glaze Recipe.

Sugar Glaze Recipe for Sugar Cookies
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tsp light corn syrup
3 tsp milk or cream
1/2 tsp flavouring (use vanilla, almond, orange, lemon or anisette to compliment the flavouring in your cookie or the colouring of the icing)
colouring optional

Mix first 4 ingredients thoroughly and spread onto cooled cookies. It will dry shiny and firm and will help to keep the cookies moist. If you are doing multiple colours separate the icing into separate bowls and colour and flavour the icing appropriately. For Halloween we make orange iced pumpkins, anisette iced bats and black cats, and vanilla ghosts. Cover any icing that you are not using as it will dry out. If it does get to thick....add a few drops of water and stir it up well. This amount should cover 1 batch of sugar cookies. Let icing firm up (maybe an hour) before stacking them in a tin. These keep quite a long time ( a good week for sure) in a tightly sealed tin.

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