Cookies from Hell

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I LOOOOOOVE cookies.  Especially sugar cookies.  In the spirit of the season I decided to try making a batch of rolled sugar cookies from a new recipe, Sugar Cookies II on page 395 of this book.

The recipe itself is basic and straightforward.  You have your flour, sugar, eggs, leavening agent, liquid.  But this ingredient should have clued me in on things to come: 1 cup vegetable shortening.  No butter.  Just pure, white artery-clogging grease.  Whatever.

Day 1.

I creamed together the shortening and sugar, then beat in the eggs – one at a time – and added the rest of the liquid.  No sweat.  Then I gradually added the dry ingredients.  No problem.  The dough looked soft but that’s why you then cover and chill.  So the bowl was covered, put in the fridge and we both chilled for two hours.

I floured the counter, prepped my Christmas cookie cutters and baking sheets and preheated the oven.  [Great tip – sprinkle water on the counter top and lay down plastic wrap.  The water makes the wrap stick to the surface.  Then you can roll out dough and toss the wrap for easy clean-up.  Thanks, Martha.]  I grabbed about 1/5 of the dough from the mixing bowl.  It was soft, but not too difficult to handle with floured hands.  I managed to roll it out and cut three cookies before it instantaneously turned into the consistency of this:

Supremely annoyed but not defeated, I divided the remaining dough into fifths, wrapped them in plastic and stuck them back in the fridge.  I picked up the remaining dough on the counter, threw it into a bowl and stuck it in the freezer to cool for another hour.  I also put my rolling pin in the freezer.  (Okay, I don’t have a rolling pin.  I use an old bottle of Malibu that has been sitting in my house forever.  Won’t drink it, might as well use it.)

One hour later, I took out the freezer bowl and my “rolling pin”.  I managed to roll about 10 cookies and threw them on the cookie sheet along with the scraps.  10 minutes and 350˚F later, light golden brown cookies came from the oven.  They tasted… so-so.  Not great, not terrible.  I blamed the shortening.  Still, I had so much dough leftover I decided to let it rest overnight in the fridge in hopes of easier handling.  My “rolling pin” was once again relegated to the freezer.

Day 2.

I sneered at the dough.

Day 3.

Floured surface.  Check.  Oven preheated.  Check.  Baking sheets prepped.  Check.  Cookie cutters lined up in a row.  Check.  I took the first round of dough from the fridge, flung it on the counter and attacked it with my trusty booze bottle before it even knew what was coming.  Once again I was able to get about three cookies cut before… well… see above.   I threw that batch in the oven and moved on to the next round of dough.  I rolled the dough out thicker this time, floured the crap out of everything, and was pleasantly surprised.  For 5 seconds.  Then…see above…  Now thoroughly pissed off, I slapped everything on the sheet and threw it in the oven too.

Here are the results (and my concurrent decent into cookie hell).

Cookie 1.  Note the discernible features and golden brown hue of this lovely cookie woman.

Cookie(s) 2.  Island of misfit cookies.  Star, a little off but still a star.  Tree, a little bent.  Moon, better luck next time.

Cookie 3.  Wreath?

Cookie 4. Wrath.

Cookie 5.  Crap on a plate.

The recipe for Sugar Cookies II has been altered for future reference:

I’m down but not out.  I’ve picked out a new recipe, the subtly-titled “Best Rolled Sugar Cookies”.  Basically swapping 1 cup shortening for 1 1/4 cups butter.  We’ll see what happens.

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