Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sugar Bunnies

I really love Easter.  In my part of the country, Mother Nature marks the occasion with a bounty of azaleas. Everyone emerges from their winter hibernation in their best new spring outfits for sunrise services, Easter egg hunts and a delicious Easter dinner.  It marks the end of whatever you may have given up for lent and the beginning of spring (or at least the promise of spring if you live farther north than I do).

This year I was lucky enough to be invited to Easter brunch by a dear friend.  And after the past several weeks of non-stop activity, a day of feasting with friends and family with no prepping, cooking or cleaning sounds just glorious!

However even if someone else is cooking the meal I still need to bring a little something.  So I went looking for an easy fun dessert I could bring for the occasion.   I wanted something fun that would appeal to guests of all ages.  I settled on Sugar Bunnies - my Easter version of sugar cookies with cream cheese icing.

Sugar cookies are classic cookie.  You will sometimes see them referred to as a "rolled cookie" because you roll the dough out and cut it with cookie cutters.  I know this is a little more effort than slice-bake-cookies, but for a holiday the extra effort is worth it.  And you will be rewarded with fun shapes and festive icing!

The thing I really like about this particular recipe (besides the taste!) is that you make the cookie dough in the food processor.  It is a really easy way to make cookie dough.

The key to sugar cookies is don't skimp on the refrigerator time before you roll out the dough.  Cold dough sticks less to the rolling pin and counter top.  If your dough starts to get sticky and hard to work with, then pop it back in the fridge until it is cold then try rolling it out again.

Happy Easter everyone!

Sugar Bunnies
Prep time: 20 minutes - Refrigerator time: 1-2 hours - Cooking time:15-20 minutes
Makes 15-25 cookies (depending on how big your cookie cutters are)

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Cream cheese icing (recipe below)
Place the first six ingredients (flour, white sugar, confectioners' sugar, baking soda cream of tarter and salt) in a food processor.  Pulse for 5 seconds.

Distribute the butter slices over the flour mixture and process about 15 seconds.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Pulse an additional 15 seconds or until the mixture resembles course meal (no big chunks of butter).

In a small bowl mix the egg and vanilla with a fork.  With the food processor running, pour the egg & vanilla mixture down the feeder tube.  Continue processing until the flour mixture and the egg come together into dough (about 35 seconds).

Remove the dough from the food processor and place on a counter or other work surface.  Kneed the dough for a few seconds then divide into two pieces.

Press each piece onto a rectangle slab, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  

When ready to start baking, preheat oven to 375 F.  Spray baking sheets with non stick baking spray and set aside.

Remove 1 slab of dough from the refrigerator.  Remove and discard the plastic wrap.  

Prepare counter top or other work space to roll out dough.  Sprinkle surface with flour.  Place dough on surface and lightly sprinkle dough with flour.  Lightly rub flour on rolling pin then roll out dough to 1/8 in thickness.  If dough gets sticky sprinkle a little more flour.

Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.  (If you don't have cookie cutters a glass can be a good substitute.)  Use a spatula to place cookies on the prepared baking sheets.  Leave about 1 inch between cookies to ensure even cooking.  Once you are done you can gather up scraps, re-roll and cut out a few more cookies.

Repeat the process with the second slab of dough.  

Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes.  Cookies should be firm and just starting to become golden around the edges.

Cool cookies completely on the baking sheets.  When cookies are completely cooled store in an air tight container until ready to serve.  Add cream cheese icing when ready to serve.

Cream Cheese Icing
Prep time - 5 minutes
  • 8 oz container of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons white granular sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream 
  • food color
Place all three ingredients in a bowl.  Use a hand mixer to mix ingredients. Scrap the side of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.  Blend again until icing has smooth consistency.  If icing is too stiff add a little more whipping cream until you achieve desired consistency.  

Divide icing into 4-5 smaller bowls (depending on how many colors you want to make).  Add food color a drop of two at a time and blend with a spoon until you achieve the desired color for your icing.

When complete cover bowls with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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