In my frenzy of Christmas baking, I do always try to find new goodies to bring…or new interpretations of classics…or forgotten recipes that I’ll revive for a season. The point is, I don’t want to be known the person who always brings the platter of dependable sugar cookies. Take a risk! Mix things up! (Though fam, you can relax. I promise, I’ll bring the caramel popcorn again this year.)
One of the recipes I found was for these beautiful cinnamon-frosted cookies. For me, cinnamon equals hell yeah!, with the exception of cinnamon sugar on my toast because I don’t know why but I just don’t care about it. So cinnamon + white chocolate + cookie + I get to make swirly patterns? That’s a multi-pronged mega-win. When food and arts & crafts combine, there is little that makes me happier. When your first step is to cream together butter and cream cheese, it approaches the nirvana of cookiedom.
Then add in the sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
A few notes about this step:
1) This is powdered sugar. Remember to pour your sugar in in parts, maybe a third at a time. If you don’t, you’ll encounter the very real likelihood of blowing a cloud of powdered sugar all over your kitchen once you turn the mixer on and the beaters start whirring around.
2) This recipe can unquestionably take more cinnamon. It only calls for a half a teaspoon, so the cookies themselves aren’t terribly cinnamon-y; they’re nice, puffy sugar cookies with a touch of cinnamon. If you want to make them taste like a cinnamon cookie with some sugar, then up the amount of cinnamon. It’s the one thing about the cookie I was a little disappointed in.
Don’t get me wrong; I got over it.
Next, you add the eggs and vanilla and then the flour. The same principle for adding powdered sugar applies to adding flour, so add it to your mix incrementally, and be ready to give up your mixer early–especially if it’s hand-held, since their motor’s not as strong as a stand mixer–and finish mixing the dough by hand. It won’t take long and in a matter of a few minutes you’ll have a beautiful, soft, slightly sticky dough. Put it on a piece of plastic wrap, roughly form it into a disc and put it in the fridge for at least an hour, so it can get nice and firm.
After it firms up in the fridge, take the dough back out with the objective of rolling it out, on a floured surface, until the dough is about a quarter-inch thick. Don’t panic if it doesn’t roll into a professional-looking, tidy circle; when I rolled mine out, it ended up looking something like a map of Great Britain.
God Save the Queen, indeed.
Now you need to cut them.
So here’s the deal. The recipe says to use a fluted cookie cutter. I ended up using a flower-shaped cookie cutter because it was pretty, and the place I went looking for a fluted cutter didn’t have any, and I didn’t think to look for biscuit cutters, OK? And by biscuits I don’t mean the UK equivalent of a cookie but rather, the big puffy things you get in American diners for a breakfast side, covered with gravy. It would have worked great and, if I’d bought a biscuit cutter, I would now have the perfect excuse to make biscuits. Sadly, that is not the case.
Happily, whether fluted or flowered, the cookies worked just fine. Cut them.
And bake them.
For some reason, the directions in the recipe don’t call for you, the baker, to gather up the scraps and re-roll them so you can maximize your cookie load per batch made. I nearly doubled mine from what the batch said it would yield, making it well worth my while. Once the scraps have been gathered you might want to wrap them in plastic and put them back in your fridge for twenty minutes or so to firm up again. I didn’t do that and really the additional batch was fine, but not as easy to handle. If I were to make them again? I’d re-refrigerate the scraps. That’s all I’m saying.
And! It’s important to know how your oven performs. I know mine runs a few degrees cool, so I left the cookies in for 10 minutes. Since there were trays on both my upper and lower oven racks, I rotated them half way through and turned the sheets around, since the back of my oven tends to be a bit more warm than the front of my oven. They came out perfectly! Lightly browned around the edges, golden on the bottom, nice and puffy in the middle. Let them cool for a minute more on the tray, and then get them onto cooling racks until they’re fully cooled and ready for icing.
Here is where the recipe and I wildly deviate. There are two flavors of icing to make for this cookie, one cinnamon, and one white chocolate. Both icings are made by mixing shortening with both white chocolate and cinnamon morsels–like chocolate chips, only different. (As an aside, do you realize how sad I am to know that cinnamon morsels exist? OMG, they’re fantastically delicious. I want to eat the whole bag.) So far, so good. But the recipe tells you to melt the chips by putting them in a saucepan.
That? Is a terrible idea. It is so, so easy to burn your chocolate or cinnamon in a saucepan. Unless you’re dying to throw out your batches of icing and start over, melt the chips in a double boiler, or do the every-15-seconds-give-it-a-stir-until-it’s-melted microwave method. If you don’t have a fancy double-boiler, sit a metal or glass mixing bowl over a pot with about an inch or two of water boiling in the bottom. Voila! Double boiler. Set yourself up for an operation that should be fairly efficient–bowls of icing, spoons for stirring and icing distribution and cookies should all be at the ready, because the icing will start to set fairly quickly. You can always stick it back in the microwave to re-melt, but try to do apply heat to your food as little as possible. After a while, it can stop playing nice with you.
So, spoon some white chocolate and some cinnamon icing side by side on each cookie.
And then take whatever you choose to use as a handy-dandy swirling utensil–I used a kebab skewer–and run it back and forth through the frostings until each cookie is smooth and marbled and beautiful.
This will proactively guarantee your inclusion on Santa’s “nice” rolls for the following year’s Christmas festivities. Work smarter, not harder, people. Because who can resist a swirly cookie?
And speaking of God Save the Queen…