Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cookies on a Stick

I love making and decorating sugar cookies.  This time of year becomes especially busy due to an annual event at work.  We have a great volunteer group and our primary source of funds each year is a company-wide Valentine Bake Sale.

In addition to all of the donated baked goods brought by employees, a large amount of funds are raised through selling these Valentine cookie bouquets

and Valentine cookies on a stick.

These lovely ladies are 'the two Sharons'.  They have, for the past gazillion years, been the organizers, recruiters, teachers and inspiration-givers of all things relating to these valentine cookies.

There are many volunteers who give their time to this project and without them we wouldn't have all of these to sell.

A group of bakers (myself included) volunteer to make several batches of the sugar cookies on a stick.  I make what we call the smaller short stick cookies and they are sold individually.

The larger ones make up the bouquets.  We fondly call these the fancy ones.
I thought I'd share with you how we make them.  Each of the bakers march home with packets that include our instructions with the recipe for the official dough recipe, a heart cookie cutter, dowels, and parchment paper. 

I'm sure each baker has her own routine on how she accomplishes her task of baking her batches of cookies.  My own routine has changed over the years, depending on the space I've had in my kitchen.  Here's what works best for me.

After a batch of the dough is mixed up it's shaped into an 8" square, wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to chill; I usually make the dough up the night before I'm going to bake.  When I'm ready to cut out cookies I take a dough scraper and cut the batch into squares.  The dough is pretty rock hard at this point so it doesn't hurt it to sit out while I work with individual pieces of dough.  If it gets too soft to work with just stick it back in the refrigerator.

 Break off a piece of dough and work it into a 3 ounce ball and place it on a piece of parchment.  I pre-cut my squares of parchment, sizing according to the cutter.  See the dowels on either side of the dough?  These serve as a guide for your rolling pin to insure that the piece of dough is rolled out to a specific thickness.  The dowels for the short stick cookies are 1/4".

Place larger piece of parchment paper over the dough ball and press slightly with the palm of your hand.

Using your rolling pin continue rolling the dough into a circle until it reaches the desired thickness (making sure the rolling pin rolls across the dowels).

The circle of dough rolled to 1/4" thickness

After cutting the cookie, keep it on it's little parchment piece and place on a cookie sheet that is kept in the refrigerator while you continue cutting out the rest of the cookies.

I stack them, repeating the cutting out process until I've used all my dough.

Working with one cookie at a time, insert your sticks.  Place your hand on top of the cookie.  Gently twist (not push) in the stick until it is about 3/4 of the way into the cookie.  Your hand on the cookie serves as a guide to insure the stick doesn't break through the dough on the top of the cookie and yet not exposed on the bottom of the cookie.

Place the cookies, still on the parchment square, and bake.

When the cookies come out of the oven, take a flat, metal spatula and gently press down on the cookies.  This will make a smoother surface for decorating.

Carefully remove the cookies to cooling racks.  Handle the cookies by the cookie and not  the stick.

All of the volunteer bakers brought their baked cookies up to the office for Glazing Day.

It takes several days to put a bottom glaze on all the cookies.

But with this group of ladies glazing away during their lunch hour the job got done!

The glazed cookies are left to dry.  This year all of the glazing was done on a Thursday and a Friday.  (those 'blue' cookies are actually a beautiful deep purple)

Saturday was a decorating frenzy.  A group of the volunteers met up at the office and spent the day letting our creative juices flow!  There is so much creativity in the room, it is just amazing!  

Let me just put a side note in here that the two Sharons make all of the glazes and royal icing for decorating.  And, believe me, it's a L.O.T. of icing!!

 This is Mandy.  She was one of the decorators who weren't afraid to try new and creative designs.

This is one she decorated.  Don't you love the lacy work?

Here are a couple more that I liked.

 In total we baked, glazed, decorated and packaged 305 cookies on the short sticks, cookies for 54 bouquets, with 3 cookies per bouquet and one raffle bouquet that had 5 cookies in it.  That's a total of almost 472 cookies!!  Woo Hoo!!!  Great job everyone!  Everyone ready for next year?

Cookies-On-A-Stick Dough
Makes approximately 20 to 21 4" cookies

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks) - salted preferred
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy; around 10-12 minutes.  Add vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well.  Stir in flour and salt.  Mix until flour is incorporated.  Shape into an 8" square, wrap in plastic wrap and chill dough.

With a pastry cutter or knife, score the dough into about 20 squares.  Roll each square into a ball (you want a ball that weighs around 3 ounces.

Roll out cookies 1/4" thick on parchment paper.  Chill the cut out cookies to firm them up a bit before inserting the sticks.  Gently twist in stick until it is about 3/4 of the way into the cookie.  Chill prior to baking.

Bake at 350°F. for 10 - 12 minutes

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