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Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies {Christmas Style}

   I'm sitting in a dirty laundromat spending a good chunk of my day off making sure that I have clean clothes for a few solid weeks. There's an old dude that keeps coughing and producing some crazy vocal yawns that at first sounded like some kind of a stroke. After the 50th one, it's not as startling. 

  Towards the front we have the homeless crew that frequent this place during colder times. They cycle from going in and outside, filling the place with the scent of old cigarettes. I'm perched in the middle of everything with my laptop on my lap, watching colorful loads twirl around in the wall of dryers. Some people have paperbacks and newspapers to pass the time, others just sit on their phones or stare at the running machines. 

  It has been somewhat difficult, lately, trying to find the positives. Whether I'm in an uncomfortable laundromat, or sitting at home surrounded by treats and comfort. I let down a mentor of mine a couple of weeks ago, and I didn't realize how much of an impact that would have on my mentality and daily work life. But it has been hard, and at the end of each work week I have come out slightly worse for wear.

  There are some life lessons here I'm sure, and I'll probably figure out what they are once my head and heart stop ringing from the guilt and extreme dip in my self esteem. I'm a baker, I really believe that. But how do you keep believing that when you've all but self-sabotaged what could be your career?

  Times like these I don't do well sitting still. Hence the laundry and chores on my days off, hence the pile of cookies sitting in front of you.

  I'm not usually much for proverbs, but idle hands and whatnot are pretty true for me when I'm feeling blue. So odds are that you'll be seeing some projects on here in the next few weeks. There's a positive, right?

  I made these babies for the first time back in 2011, which I'm now realizing is very close to 8 years ago. 15-year-old Ellen was still learning a lot of ropes, and these cookies came out pretty haphazard. The frosting was more of a glaze, and I didn't realize how little these spread while baking--so they were more lumps than cookies. Additionally, my photography skills consisted of placing a tupperware full of cookies on our bright blue kitchen floor and thinking that was pretty artsy (it was not).

  But, I mean, if I haven't learned to laugh at myself at this point--I'm in big trouble.

  So while I'm pinching pennies and desperately trying not to screw up cakes and breads and pies at work, I'll be here letting loose. Yeah, this time around I remembered to press these cookies closer to what I wanted for their finished shape. And yeah, the frosting got a little too thin again, but would you look at that pine green color?

  These cookies are a guilty pleasure for me, modeled after those big soft cookies you see in every grocery store bakery with varying seasonal sprinkles/frostings. I've yet to make a homemade version of a guilty pleasure I didn't like, and these are no exception. Thank you to Hostess with the Mostess for giving us easy access to giant frosted sugar cookies, it was the baking therapy I needed last week.

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Yield: about a dozen large cookies

Ingredients for the cookies:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4+1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the frosting:
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)

To make the cookies, in a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 

When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball.  Flatten the ball into a thick disc with your hands, getting it pretty close to what you want your end cookie to look like. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until the edges start to firm and the centers appear just set. (Do not overbake! The edges should be no more than very lightly browned if at all.)  Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes to complete cooking.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To frost the cookies, place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies. (If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable.) Top with sprinkles if desired.  Store in an airtight container.

Sources: found on and adapted from Everyday Annie, originally from Hostess with the Mostess