We were feeling a little worn out from the gamut of holiday parties over the past two weeks. Not that we minded all the eating and drinking, but add to that a foot of snow, final exams, more-than-full time work and seasonal feeling under the weather and we were pretty tired. Still, we couldn’t resist entertaining a little on our own. We decided to keep things local and simple this year. We invited our neighborhood friends to start out Sunday with brunch at Eclipse, a great Mexican-American restaurant on 4th avenue. After, we adjourned to the apartment for an afternoon of collective cookie baking.
This way, everybody got to participate (if they chose) in one of our favorite, non-denominational holiday rituals and even take some of those cookies home. We provided the ingredients and scrounged around for good recipes. Surprisingly, none of our trusted cookbooks had a decent gingerbread recipe, but we found a good one on simplyrecipes.com. We didn’t have brown sugar to make the gingerbread cookies, but we mixed our own by mixing 1 tablespoon of molasses with 1 cup of natural sugar. We also got to use our new Gourmet cookbook for an almost dairy-free sugar cookie recipe. If you can’t eat eggs, just use egg replacer.
From “The Gourmet Cookbook,” given by Helen Gustafson of Cook’s Cafe in Brookings, South Dakota, formerly of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.
1 cup granulated sugar, plus additional for shaping and sprinkling cookies
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar (we actually omitted this and it was fine)
4 cups all-purpose flour
Pre-heat oven to 376 degrees f.
Whisk together granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar (if using) until combined. Add four and stir with spoon until dough forms; dough will be dry and slightly crumbly.
Form level tablespoons of dough into balls and arrange about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten balls with bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar (the edges of the cookies will crack), then sprinkle cookies with sugar.
Bake cookies in batches until still set but sill pale, about 7-8 minutes per batch. Be mindful of the bottoms burning.
Our cookie baking party was so fun, tasty and low-key that it just might become an annual tradition! Besides, what’s better than hanging out with friends on a cold afternoon in a warm apartment infused with the smell of freshly baked cookies?