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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cut It Out! It's National Cookie Day!

Tradition plays a tremendous part in the festivities surrounding the holiday season. Be sure to create traditions with your family and friends and do your best to keep them alive in this ever changing world of commercialism. And what better place to begin but in the hearth of the home, the kitchen. Roll-out cookie dough and festive cookie cutters can make holidays memorable. The sheer magic of baking and personally decorating the cookies is entertainment in itself. Just take a look at these Stained Glass Ornament Cookies Pattie created using cutter cookies she found at William Sonoma. Aren't they fabulous! And just wait until you see what she did with them. You'll be as delighted as I was:)

As I mentioned the other day, today is National Cookie Day and we are in the midst of National Cookie Cutter Week. I had big plans for today's celebration. As luck would have it, those plans are not going to come to fruition today. Here's why. For the past couple of weeks, I've been having problems seeing out of my right eye. Thinking it would pass, I just went about my business as usual. Well, it didn't work. As a matter of fact, it got worse. I tried eye washes, resting and even different reading glasses and it continued to get worse. I finally went to the eye doctor today and it seems I have a rather advanced infection in my eye and the doctor tells me it must not only be tended to but also requires a few weeks, at least, of rest. I'm not one to listen to the doctors but, It doesn't take a rocket scientist to plainly see there is indeed something awry. So, dear readers, I'm sorry to say, rest it will be; indefinitely...

Zaletti
I did manage to gather a few cookie trivia crumbs while researching for today's post. Rather than typing these tidbits of goodies here, I will send you on your way at your leisure. I've left tons of links in the resource section below.
Buttered Rum Cutouts
Buttered Rum Cutouts
Better Homes and Garden Biggest Book of Cookies
1 cup butter softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp. rum extract
2-2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 recipe Royal Icing
Directions
1. In a large bowl beat butter with electric mixer on med high speed for 30 sec. Add brown sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides occassionally. Beat in egg and rum extract until combined.
2. Add as much flour as you can and mix it in with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with spoon. Divide dough in half. If it is necessary, chill dough for one hr til it is easy to handle.
3. Roll out half the dough onto the floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Using floured cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes. Place one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 350 F oven for 8-10 min or til edges are slightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack and frost if desired with Royal icing.
Royal Icing
In a small mixing bowl combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 cup warm water, 4 teaspoons meringue powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 7 tp 10 minutes or until stiff. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until glazing consistency. If desired, divide glaze and tint each portion with different paste food coloring. Use at once. Keep covered when not in use.
To Store: Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze unfrosted cookies up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, frost.
Aunt Chick and the History of Cookie Cutters was to be the core of today's post, along with a few chosen cut-out cookie recipes. Let's see how this goes:)

By definition, a cookie cutter is "a device used to cut rolled cookie dough into shapes before baking." Traditionally, cookie cutters are made of copper, tin, stainless steel, aluminium, or plastic. According to the same defining source, the first known use of the words cookie cutter occurred in 1903. I beg to differ: In a Boston Cooking School Magazine article from 1902, titled Some Christmas Fancies, by Julia Davis Chandler, I came across these suggestions:

As you see, in paragraph two, the last sentence makes reference to the tinsmith who can supply the "cutters" by direction. Tinplate was used in cookie cutter production because it was cheap and readily available. It was also easy to form and solder, corrosion resistant, non poisonous and easy to keep clean. Cookie shapes were cut from pastry dough using these cutters made by local tinsmiths. A cookie cutter in the mid 19th century might cost between 5 and 10 cents and a family, in the course of time, might accumulate a dozen or so for use on special occasions.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Cookie decorating dates back to at least the 14th century when in Switzerland, springerle cookie molds were carved from wood and used to impress Biblical designs into cookies.
The art of decorating cookies can be traced back to Medieval Germany where Lebkuchen was crafted into fancy shapes and decorated with sugar. During the 17th century, Dutch and German settlers introduced cookie cutters, decorative molds, and festive holiday cookie decorations to the United States. German cooking utensils, including cookie cutters, were imported between 1871 and 1906, and the American tradition of decorating cookies for Christmas tree ornamentation took hold.
Lebkuchen (gingerbread) was probably the first cake/cookie traditionally associated with Christmas. For Christmas over a hundred years ago, Pennsylvania German children in Lancaster County helped cut out and decorate foot-high cookies to stand in the front of windows of their stone or brick houses. These cookie people–often gingerbread men and women iced with rows of buttons and big smiles–were a cheerful sight to snow-cold passersby. Figural cookie-making was practiced in Europe at least as far back as the sixteenth century–most of them were made using intaglio molds rather than with cutters. (source)
Sugar Cookies for a Crowd
The Best of Amish Coooking
Phylis Pellman Good (1988)
The quintessential cut-out cookie is the sugar cookie. Also called Amish Sugar Cookies or Nazareth Sugar Cookies, the modern sugar cookie was created by the Moravians, who settled in the Nazareth area of Pennsylvania during the mid-18th century. As a matter of fact, Pennsylvania adopted the Nazareth Sugar Cookie as the official state cookie in 2001.
I was graciously awarded with the Liebster Award by Helene from Masala Herb. (Thank you again Helene. It was sweet of you:) With her unique approach and style, Helene's blog never disappoints. I've discovered so many new ingredients and dishes by visiting her and her positive encouragement is contagious. Drop by and say hi when you get a chance:)

"The Liebster Blog Award comes from the German word meaning "dearest" or "beloved" and is given by fellow bloggers to new blogs with 200 or less followers, with the aim of encouraging new connections." I hope Helene understands that I think it best to simply accept her award without passing it on for the time being.

I would like to thank my latest followers though. They are:
Sarah: @ Muffin Top Confections
Someone? @ To Be Announced
Russ & Jenna @ Mr. & Mrs. Johnson
Emily @ Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

For those of you talented cookie bakers out there, I happened upon a Holiday Cookie Contest, over @ Yummly Nibbles & Bits, that you just might find interesting. It seems the prize is a 7-Quart KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Hurry though. It closes December 9, 2011. Good Luck!!!

I have no intentions of not making some visits every now and again and there is no way I won't be popping in to wish you all a Happy Holidays. However, just in case we miss each other, enjoy the Holiday Season everyone and bake a lot of cookies!!! As a matter of fact, if you would like to leave your favorite cookie link in the comment section, link away!!! Louise:)

Apple Butter Cookies
Good Housekeeping Cook Book (1944 ed.)

Resources
Cookie Cutters:
1. American Cookie Cutter Manufacturer
2. Copper Cookie Cutters
3. Dog Bone Cookie Cutters
4. Hammersong Cookie Cutters (unique & whimsical)
5. Hand Crafted Cookie Cutters
6. Poppy's Cookie Cutters
7. Walnut Creek Home and Garden-A family owned business in Metamora, Indiana
8. Cookie Cutter Ideas
Cut-Out Cookies
1. The History of Fruit Cake and Other Christmas Goodies
2. Tips and Hints for Making Cookie Cutter Cookies
3. How to Decorate with Royal Icing
4. Tips for Icing
5. Easy Cake Mix Sugar Cookies
6. Cookie Decorating Recipes
7. Fond Memories of “The Original” Cookie Cutter Lady
8. German Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne)
9. Coffee Ginger Cookies