Dec 3, 2012

Chanukah Cookies Hanging Around

Word gets around in my daughter’s school. They know who to assign when the job calls for some extra creativity--which is why I found myself in the kitchen with my daughter and her friends, baking cookies for one of their pre-Chanukah events. They chose to make “stained glass cookies” cut into dreidels. These attractive edibles use a bit of ingenuity to bring basic sugar cookies up a notch.

Here is our favorite sugar cookie recipe.

Roll Out Sugar Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour

For the “stained glass” you will need 48 sour ball candies—you know the kind—the old fashioned round candy that you keep away from young children because they are a choking hazard.

Ribbon or string

10 stems curly willow or other lightweight branches

Tall vase

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream margarine and sugar for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Dough will be stiff.

Roll out cookies to ¼” thickness. We like to roll out cookies on a Silpat silicone non-stick mat. Since it stays put, it won’t move when you roll out your dough. It also doesn’t crease like parchment. And the best advantage is that you don’t ever have to remove the dough from the Silpat. You just roll out and bake!

Cut dreidels using the largest size of the graduated Dreidel Cookie Cutter Set. Cut the center of the dreidel using the smallest sized cutter. Cut as many cookies as there is room for on the Silpat. Space the cookies so that you can remove the excess dough around cookies.

Once the cookies are cut, lift away only the scraps around each cookie. You can easily do this with a small tapered spatula. Slide the Silpat onto your cookie sheet. This ensures the cookies are never misshapen because you are not moving them individually.

If you want to be able to hang the cookies for a cookie arrangement, you need to cut a small hole at the top of each dreidel. Use a regular straw or any tool that will cut a small hole to cut a hole in the stem of the dreidel.

Unwrap sour ball candies or any hard candy of your choice and put in the middle of the dreidel. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. The candy will melt and fill the dreidel cut out. When the edges of the cookies are golden, remove from oven. Place pan on a cooling rack. Let cool until the candy hardens. Don’t move while the candy is still soft.

If the candy did not reach the dough at every edge, gently draw it toward that edge with the tip of a knife—never touch hot candy with your fingers. Melted sugar is super hot—ouch!
Repeat until all the dough has been used.

Place the willow branches in the vase. You may need to stabilize it a bit with glass beads or even crunched up cellophane.

Cut 6 inch lengths from your ribbon. Thread through the holes at the tops of the dreidels and tie at intervals onto the branches.

Voila! An eye-catching cookie arrangement without a lot of work. My daughter really impressed everyone at school that day!
Here is the "cookie tree" on the table in the school lunchroom.
We also made some extra cookies and hung them on branches in our store. They caught the eye of dozens of our customers. You can bet lots of Chanukah parties with have cookie arrangements as their centerpieces this year!
Just wait will we get to the doughnuts...

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