Nov 20, 2012

Storm Activities

While we did not lose power during Superstorm Sandy the kids were home from school as a precaution. So, of course, we had to come up with some exciting ways to pass the time. We took suggestions—sometimes we can allow democracy in the home, after all.  In my house baking cookies always gets a “thumbs up.” Cookies, it is!
One of our favorite kiddie cookies are a simple sugar cookie with colored sprinkles or jimmies added. They’re easy to scoop using one of my favorite kitchen gadgets—an Oxo cookie scoop. Using a scoop keeps all the cookies nice and even. It also makes for pleasingly round cookies, even when they’re done by a six-year-old. You may think kitchen gadgets are my life and I must have every new one that comes to market. But no, I’ve got limited space in my kitchen so only those that I can’t live without make it home with me. Cookie scoops are on the short list. Once you get used to turning out beautiful, round, evenly-sized cookies there’s no going back. We bake lots of cookies in this house so my Oxo cookie scoops get a place right in front of the gadget drawer.  They come in three sizes—I use them for everything from cookies (duh!) to truffles to portioning cupcake batter to serving ice cream and sorbet. They will go right through frozen foods without breaking.
The kids can be involved in preparing the cookie dough as well. Just measure out each ingredient and let them pour it into the mixer. They may get more flour on their clothes than in the bowl but that’s part of the fun. 
This type of cookie is really versatile because you can add whatever ingredients your children prefer, from a variety of chips to sprinkles to nuts or craisins. You can drizzle them with melted chocolate or icing or leave them plain. They are so fast and easy that you will never be caught with an empty freezer again.
Here’s the recipe:

Colorful Cookies
1 cup margarine (2 sticks), room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup multi-colored sprinkles or jimmies (long sprinkles)
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat silicone mats.

Cream margarine and sugar until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs and mix. Add flour and baking powder and mix just until combined. Stir in sprinkles by hand using a large silicone spatula or wooden mixing spoon. Using a mixer to mix in the sprinkles will cause them to break and color the dough in very unattractive ways.

 Scoop dough using a medium-sized cookie scoop. While you will be able to scoop the dough and scrape it directly onto the lined pan, kids may need to use both hands to ease the dough out of the scoop onto the pan. You can see my daughter using the scoop here—she had no difficulties once she figured out that it’s ok to use two hands. The biggest problem was keeping her from eating all the raw cookie dough!

Place cookies about 2 inches apart on the pan. I usually lay them 4 across and 6 down in the pan, which gives you a nice 2 dozen on every batch. Lightly press down on the balls to flatten them a bit before putting the pans in the oven.  Fill both pans with cookies before putting them in the oven.

Set your timer for 12 minutes and let them bake. If your oven does not bake evenly you might want to switch the top and bottom pans halfway through baking.

 Remove the cookies from the oven once they are very lightly golden on the edges. The cookies may seem soft—don’t’ worry they will firm up once they cool. Over-baking them will give you hard cookies—a big no-no in our family.

Cool on a cooling rack and store in airtight containers. They also freeze perfectly so you can make a double (or triple) batch and freeze them for another day. If you can get any into the freezer before they are all eaten!

Don't they look delicious?

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