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My history with frosted sugar cookies goes waaayyy back. Almost to the beginning of time. Well, at least the beginning of my time. I learned the art of, and appreciation for, making sugar cookies at my mother’s knee. Of course, in this case, her knees were in the kitchen. And, given that she had five kids and a husband to feed and a house to keep, I’m guessing her knees, and probably her back, ached. But that’s a tale for another day.
Every year, at Christmas, Mom would make sugar cookies. She’d don an apron, make and roll the dough into a nice circle, and then cut shapes with her metal cookie cutters: The gingerbread man (always a favorite because it was big), the reindeer and the angel (both which required special skill when handling because of the thin parts that were vulnerable to cracking), the Christmas tree and the Santa Claus. Before putting them in the oven, she’d let me help by carefully adding the colored sprinkles. At least that’s my recollection. No doubt I got sprinkles all over everything and she got to clean up the mess.
At some point, I got my own collection of cookie cutters and my own cookie sheet. Miniature replicas of Mom’s. I think the cookie cutter shaped like a little dog was my favorite. I never had an EasyBake oven. I got to bake my cookies in the real oven.
One of my forms of rebellion as a teenager was to take cookie-making up a notch. Declare my independence and do things different than my parents. I discovered the fun of frosting the cookies rather than just using sprinkles. Same cookie cutters, just with a different finale. I would make a big batch of frosting, divide it into several bowls and, using food coloring, prepare my palette. Mom had this metal Mirro cake decorator, with various tips, that I would use to decorate the cookies. One year, I spent hours decorating a couple dozen cookies. Then my brothers came home and the entire batch disappeared. It was probably my first experience with the concept of disproportionate effort versus reward.
I continued the tradition through the years. Like my mom, every year for Christmas I’d make cookies. When the kids were growing up, the annual cookie decorating was the one event we never missed. They, too, always preferred the biggest cookie cutter. It provided the broadest canvas for their frosting artistry. And, in turn, provided the biggest score when they got to eat one of “their” cookies.
With my burgeoning collection of cookie cutters, I was able to expand to year-round cookie making. (Perhaps the ice cream cones I made one year for a 4th of July party were some of my favorites.)
This year for Halloween, I got the idea to make mummy cookies. I had seen pictures of mummy cupcakes, so I figured I could do the same with cookies. (One of those, “How hard can it be?” moments.) A trip to JoAnn provided the edible eyeballs (as I called them, they are actually Wilton Candy Eyeballs). You just gotta love a world where you can purchase edible eyeballs. Since these were for a party, I used a 3 1/2″ round cookie cutter because I wanted them to be big and, due to their large size, imply one serving per guest. For the frosting, I used a good, basic vanilla buttercream. After baking and cooling the cookies, I got down to the business of decorating. I used a dab of frosting on the back of each eyeball to adhere them in place (Jon’s brilliant suggestion). Then, using a standard basket weave decorating tip, I just sort of randomly ran stripes of frosting across the cookie. To answer my own question, it wasn’t hard at all.
While I love making frosted sugar cookies, honestly, my favorite part is eating them. I may have been slightly miffed at my brothers the year they scarfed my cookies without a second thought, but honestly I understand it. It’s really not that different than how I consume them.
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