December 18, 2009, 12:18 pm
Filed under: london lovin', yummy in the tummy

So remember when I banished food colouring from my decorative baking adventures?  I must confess, I’ve had a bit of a relapse…

Last night, with a friend I took a holiday cookie decorating (well, it was called biscuit decorating, but they mean cookies!) class at the lovely Make Lounge in London’s Islington.  It was great fun to play with the shapes and colours, enjoy with a little edible bling (my goodness is Christmas sparkly in the UK) and learn a few tips and tricks…

But I can’t help feeling, as I did with my summer birthday cupcakes — what’s in that coloured fondant and Royal Icing anyway?  OK, I know there’s not really much to offend (sugar, water, egg whites), but why put something that really doesn’t taste very nice on top of that gorgeous gingerbread cookie??

The colours are certainly pretty, and while I like a little glitter as much as the next girl (well, maybe not quite as much), I think I’d rather my food look like food…

I had a peek at my *favourite* cupcake shop for inspiration and, happily, they didn’t disappoint.  I think I’ll be doing a batch of gingerbread cookies and a batch of sugar cookies to take with me to our festive gatherings on Christmas Day, and inspired by the Enjoy Cupcakes holiday menu, they might be adorned with spices and sugar, stem ginger, candied nuts, dried cranberries and crushed candy canes (OK, OK, that one’s not so natural, but what a fun idea, no?).  And maybe a bit of icing, but maybe buttercream instead of Royal (bringing it along so people can ice for themselves?), and maybe flavoured with vanilla, maple, or orange…

Check back post-Christmas for photos of the results of my experiment!

And in the meantime, my mom’s recipe (originally from Better Homes & Gardens, the recipe card says) for my favourite cookies, at Christmastime or any time of the year…


1 cup butter, softened (I use unsalted organic)
2 cups sugar (I use unrefined)
2 eggs (free range and/or organic if possible)
1/4 cup milk (using whole instead of skim is slightly yummier)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups all-purpose/plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
(optional:  1 cup chopped nuts — I never use these though!)

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy (several minutes in my Kitchen Aid, I find).  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Blend in milk and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. (Roll each ball in a mixture of 3/4 cup Demerara sugar, 2+ teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2+ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg.)  Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet (greased, or lined with silicone liner).  Flatten with the sugared bottom of a tumbler.

Bake 10-12 minutes in preheated 375 degree oven.

(Cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container, but after about the second day they benefit hugely from 10 seconds in the microwave before eating.)

{Makes about 5 dozen cookies.}


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