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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Apple Butter Cookies

I wanted a different kind of "cut out" cookie for the holidays...something not gingerbread-like...but more than vanilla sugar cookie dough.  I found a huge selection of roll-out-and-cut dough recipes at Ann Clark Ltd.  I made the dough a couple of weeks ago and froze it.  Day before yesterday I took out all of the Apple Butter Cookie dough and 1/2 of the Cardamom Cookie dough and 1/3 of the regular sugar cookie dough I usually bake with, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.  This week, I'm baking.

I rolled and cut 110 cookies...half of which were minis.  I have apple shapes, pumpkins, turkeys, acorns, and a few leaves.  That should do it for the Thanksgiving cookie baking!  My house smelled outstanding throughout the I'd already been baking pumpkin pies!  When I left for a while and then returned - the house smelled even better!  All those cookies sitting on cooling racks just infused the house with the smells of Autumn!
The Cardomom minis have a subtle spice taste

I went strictly by the recipe for the Cardamom Cookie dough as well as my usual Laurie Mather's World's Best Sugar Cookie dough.  You can check those links for the recipe.  What I'm sharing here is my favorite of the bunch - my new favorite cookie dough for Fall cookies.  It's mostly Ann Clark's recipe...with a few tweaks from me.  Here it is:

Apple Butter Cookie Dough
Adapted from Ann Clark, Ltd.


3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter (I used Musselman's)
1 egg yolk (room temperature)
1/2 Tbsp Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (I used Gold Medal)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder


Cream butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.

Beat in apple butter, egg yolk, and vanilla bean paste.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.  Add to wet mixture just until all ingredients are well blended.  Take care not to over mix.

Wrap in plastic wrap (I divided mine in quarters and formed into small rectangles for easier handling).

Chill for 4 hours or overnight before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll dough out on a lightly floured counter to 1/4 to 3/8 inch thickness.  Keep the dough moving, lift to ensure it is not sticking to the counter.  Sprinkle more flour if needed.  Make sure your rolling pin stays floured as well.  This was a sticky dough when it got warm - hence the easier handling with small portions.

Cut the rolled dough with well-floured cookie cutters.  Metal works best!  Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I use the Silpat mats).  If my cookies were difficult to move, I floured my thinnest metal spatula and lifted gently to help transfer them.  I refrigerated each tray while another was baking so they wouldn't spread.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and rest in pan on cooling rack.  As soon as they are there, get out your trusty fondant smoother and gently glide it over every cookie.  This will remove any bubbles or plumped up areas - resulting in a nicely flat cookie.  Don't press, sort of like you are ironing something delicate.  Remove to rack to cool once cookies are cool enough to handle.  Allow to cool completely before decorating.

For the apple cookies I used my regular royal icing recipe but when I was mixing colors and bringing the uber stiff frosting to pipe and flood consistency, I used some apple cider instead of water to thin...and I added some cinnamon extract to complement the vanilla extract already in the icing.  It's barely a hint of difference, but I think it complements the cookies.

The decorating was a two day endeavor.  I made all the icing (3 batches) and colored them and let them rest (covered in plastic wrap - touching the icing).  When I returned from helping a neighbor with a computer task, I found the bubbles had all risen and were easily popped.  Filled all the bottles and a couple of piping bags and got to work.  Started about 6:00 p.m. and stopped at bed with cramping hands by midnight and up at 7:00 ready to start again.  Love Ibuprofen :-)

We are humid - we're always humid on the coast - but I used the fans and lowered the air conditioning to help with a good drying environment.  They did great.  The only thing that didn't do great was I tried to use a flood icing to pipe some detail on pumpkins and it ran together.  It was the last thing I did before going to bed last night so this morning - I had rather unattractive green blobs on my pumpkins - nicely hardened.  Drat.  Oh well.  I knew it was too loose and I didn't stop and fix it.  My bad!  Still, I think the cookies turned out well.

The apples, acorns, and large pumpkins were all made from the Apple Butter Sugar Cookie recipe.  All of the minis except for the orange pumpkins were made from the Cardamom recipe.  The large turkeys and the mini orange pumpkins were all vanilla sugar cookies.

Keep an eye out for a tutorial on putting together the turkey cookies.  Hope to have it up by Monday at the latest.
Turkey tutorial coming soon!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!


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