PERFECT PASTRY: SUGAR COOKIES.
I am beyond thrilled to share these perfect pictures of the most perfect sugar cookies, handmade and designed by a dear family friend, Kerri!!!! I've known Kerri since she was in high school because my mom would always speak so highly of her. We recently reconnected and she has been such a bearer of joy to me and Baby Coco because of her wise parenting advice, compassion, and style. When I saw some of the cookies she shared for St. Patrick's Day I was truly taken aback by how perfect they were!!! Honestly, as someone whose capabilities in the kitchen are limited to baking (and even those are just limited to making funfetti cakes and slice and bake cookies!!) I could not believe Kerri's talent!!! How perfect are they?!?!
I asked Kerri if she would share a little bit about herself and luckily she obliged! Some talents are too good to be kept a secret!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school and study?
I grew up in Marin and went to high school in San Francisco, which is where I met the Curran Clan! After high school, I landed in the Midwest to attend the University of Notre Dame where I studied psychology. I got married almost 13 years ago (!) and we’ve lived all over the US. After moving to the Chicago suburbs, I earned my MsEd in Early Childhood Education from Dominican University.
What are you up to now?
I’ve put teaching on hold for awhile while I stay at home with our four year daughter. We have lots going on and I have loved the transition from teaching into being a stay-at-home mom.
Can you PLEASE share a little bit about your cookie making skills! How did you start making these gorgeous cookies? Which ones are your favorites? Where do you get inspiration from? What's the secret to a great cookie!
I’ve made cookies of all kinds with my mom ever since I can remember. The recipe I use for rolled sugar cookies is the one she’s been using for 40 years! In college, I started to decorate cookies for friends and holidays, and since then I have cultivated it as a fun (and delicious) hobby. Martha Stewart was my original inspiration, but since then blogs and social media have really helped me with tutorials and how-tos. There are some amazingly talented cookie artists out there! I like Sweet Ambs, Sweet Sugarbelle, and Sweetopia.
My secret to a great cookie is to start with tried and true recipes that taste great. My mom’s cookie recipe is buttery and crisp, and I think it tastes better than any other I’ve tried! The smooth icing I use is called Royal Icing and there are lots of recipes for it, but I have used Haniela’s with great success I LOVE teaching friends and family how to make the cookies and practice the icing techniques I have learned. My mistakes along the way have taught me well, so I always share what I can with beginners. For example, the most delicious (and expensive!) pure vanilla extract is a fantastic addition to your cookies. But if you use it to flavor your royal icing, the icing will never harden and you’ll start to panic over ruining dozens of Sex and the City high heels and Tiffany & Co. boxes for a bachelorette party in NYC. True story. ;-)
My favorite cookies are at Christmastime, when I make collections of snowflakes, mittens, trees, etc. and give them as gifts. It becomes a total cookie factory in my kitchen and I stay up waaaaay too late working on them while watching Christmas movies on my laptop. I’m constantly on the hunt for new cutters and designs to make into cookies.
What are some of your other hobbies/ interests?
I have always loved crafting and making things, and for that I credit my two crafty grandmothers. Sometimes the crafting and the cookies overlap, and I’m in heaven! I love to cook and entertain, which helps fuel both habits. My favorite parties to host are for unexpected holidays or events, like a Father’s Day BBQ or a Moms’ Wrap Party to wrap holiday gifts on a weeknight. Oh, and baby showers! Those might be my most favorite crafty-cookie crossover!
Any tips for me and other new moms?
The days are long and the years are short. Nothing could be truer about new motherhood! Don’t save the special baby clothes for a special occasion. They grow so fast; enjoy those precious outfits as much as possible! (Something tells me your little one will have no problem being dressed up all the time!). Take some photos of the entire room when making memories for your kids. They’ll look back and love being able to see their whole classroom, birthday party, your mom’s kitchen, or even the library.
Thank you, Kerri for sharing your talents and your sugar cookie recipe (below) with all of us!!!! xoxo, Caroline
These cookies are the first cookies I saw and obviously they caught my eye and captured my heart! In another life I will be someone who can do DIY stuff and will try and make these cookies myself!!
Sugar Cookie Cutouts:
1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar ,1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon water ,3 cups flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt.
Add butter, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat until creamy. Add egg and water, beat until light in color and fluffy. In a large separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together to combine. Add flour mixture gradually to the butter mixer with the beater on low. Mix until completely combined, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Divide the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill at least one hour.
Set oven to 375. When ready to roll out, sprinkle flour onto surface and roll to about 1/8” thickness. Cut out with seasonal cutters. Bake on a lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart for about 6-8 minutes, adjusting for cookie size. Do not let cookies brown. A pale golden color is okay. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely before decorating with royal icing.
Cookies will keep in a fresh, airtight container for about one week.