Getting the hang of it

Cooking 101

December 19, 2007|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Reporter

It's holiday crunch time. Time to dig out those last ornaments. Time to bake cookies for Santa. Why not save a little time, and make ornaments out of cookies?

Baltimore International College senior associate chef instructor Faith Kling showed us how to make simple, edible ornaments from a standard sugar-cookie dough. They're baked much like regular cookies (in fact, you can bake some to eat and some to use for decoration in the same batch).

Kling uses crushed Jolly Ranchers to make a stained-glass effect. Crushed cinnamon candies or candy canes are other options. She uses tiny cookie cutters to make hearts for angels or small stars in larger ones -- you're limited only by your imagination. (Don't forget to make a hole for a ribbon that will hang your ornament.)

She also uses the round end of a dowel to make holes that will look like balls on a Christmas-tree cookie when you fill them with candy. And you also can use tiny cutters to make shapes that are superimposed on larger ones; just attach the shapes with a little egg yolk before you bake.

Bake the cookie ornaments "a little harder" than normal, Kling says, so they'll be sturdy as well as pretty additions to your tree. Store the finished cookies you want to eat in a dry environment, not the refrigerator. (Don't eat the cookies that have hung on your tree.)

kate.shatzkin@baltsun.com

SUGAR-COOKIE ORNAMENTS

MAKES ABOUT 21 / 2 DOZEN COOKIES, DEPENDING ON SHAPES

1 / 3 cup butter

1 / 3 cup shortening

3 / 4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

dash salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

crushed Jolly Ranchers, candy canes and / or cinnamon candies for decoration

1 to 2 egg whites, beaten, for brushing

Beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder and salt; beat until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon.

Divide dough in half. If necessary, cover and chill dough for 3 hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll each portion of dough to 1 / 8 -inch thickness. Cut cookies into shapes and place on a pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Use a skewer to poke a hole near the top of each cookie ornament. Circle the hole with the skewer to widen it slightly; it will shrink a bit during baking.

Cut out shapes in the middle of cookies with small cutters (or, on Christmas-tree cookies, use the round end of a dowel to make holes that look like balls).

Mound one type of crushed candy in each hole, filling the space. Brush cookies with egg white and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned.

Cool completely on the pan. (If melted candy creates ragged edges, scrape stray bits away carefully with a paring knife before candy has cooled.)

Courtesy of Faith Kling, senior associate chef instructor at Baltimore International College

Per cookie (without candy decoration): 90 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 22 milligrams sodium

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