The other day, Iso’s six-year old schoolfriend came over (with her mom and her baby sister). I’m not the most natural hostess in the world, so I thought I’d be less nervous if they had an activity to do. They’re six, so it had to be an activity that would keep them occupied for a little bit, but wouldn’t fail if they stopped midway through to do something else. Of course, right away I thought of cookies. What little girl doesn’t like to decorate cookies with frosting and sprinkles? Also, I knew the little girl’s mom is allergic to wheat, so she probably didn’t get to decorate cookies very often. And before you ask, I did ask the mom if it was okay. Side note: Playdates are so much more fun when it is also a playdate for the parents, don’t you think? I’m lucky that Iso chooses friends whose parents I like spending time with. Hope it stays that way!
Just in case you think that my baking motives were entirely altruistic– they weren’t. Of course not! I’ve been wanting some Swiss squeeze bottles for frosting ever since I’d seen them in a Sur la Table catalog a while ago. Unfortunately, our Sur la Table is across town, and I didn’t want to drive that far without air conditioning, proper registration, and a valid license. Ha! Yep. I am a slacker of epic proportions, and also rather broke.
But that didn’t stop me from going merely a few blocks away to Williams-Sonoma, where they had nearly the same thing. Once I got the box home
and inspected it, I saw that it was the exact same brand as the Sur la Table one. It probably doesn’t make a difference at all. I could probably use those squeezy ketchup and mustard bottles you see on picnic tables and it would be pretty similar. But I like the accordion-like, up and down squeeziness of these particular bottles. I thought it would be easier for tiny kid hands to control. And it was! It takes less effort to squeeze accurately, and they had a lot of fun. Even the friend’s little sister, a two-year old, was able to decorate her own cookies. Naturally, it looked like a two-year old did it! It was all very cute. I let them go crazy with pink, green and purple frosting, and I dragged out all of the sprinkles. I have a lot. Every time Target has a holiday section, I snag a bottle of holiday-appropriate sprinkles, because I am absolutely positive that I’m running low. I do this with frozen peas, too. Somehow, my brain is frantic at the thought of not having enough frozen peas and sprinkles in the house and it has been this way for years. What is up with that? Hello, therapy! I probably wanted sprinkles as a small child and my mom wouldn’t get them for me, or something ridiculously Freudian like that. Nothing else makes sense.
The three girls decorated for much longer than I’d anticipated, but what was funny was that they focused s.o. h.a.r.d. on each cookie. They only did about five or six each, and they were so intent. The two-year old’s icing looked like those wet sandcastle dribbles you make at the beach, and she did it so deliberately and carefully. There is something magical about frosting and little girls. My daughter and her friend made flowers and butterflies, and there were sprinkles everywhere, and I finally got rid of those fizzy Skittles that have been hanging around since Halloween. They make great flower centers! Also, apparently two-year olds are quite fond of them. Her mother had to move the bowl to the other end of the table. Ha!
For the cookies, I used the standard recipe from the 11th ed. of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which is my go to cookbook, truth be told. I have so many cookbooks! But this is the one that is held together with masking tape and always has a faint dust of flour inside its pages.
Here is the recipe, slightly modified.
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T. milk
1 and 1/4 c. flour ( I used 2 cups, since I was making rolled cookies.)
1/4 tsp. salt ( I skipped this, since I was using salted butter.)
1/4 tsp. baking powder ( I used 1/2 tsp., since I knew I’d be using more flour.)
Mixmiximix. Roll thin and cut. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven and how many cookies you manage to fit on the sheet. They don’t change color a whole lot, so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn on the bottom. I made the cookies the day before, so two six-year olds would not have to wait around and be frustrated, and I think the cookies taste better a day old, anyway. They are not superbuttery, supersugary, or superanything– but they have you chasing the dragon of sweetness and are stiff enough to hold up to the frosting without being overwhelmed and crumbly. In a word– perfect. Gott sei Dank für Fanny Farmer!
While we were frosting, we listened to Sleep Party People remixes (which makes little six year olds dance like there’s no tomorrow!), The Black Keys, and my newest acquisition– Cults. I put off buying this album because NPR pushed them so hard before the album was even out, and it got my goat. I don’t like being told what to buy! And then I bought it anyway, because it is so damned catchy. In case you don’t listen to NPR and missed the media blitz a year ago, here you are:
They remind me of a cross between Camera Obscura and Thee Oh Sees. They’re Twee Oh Sees! I should stop now. Also, notice how I did not include any Trentemøller or Mikael Simpson songs. You know I wanted to. I don’t know what my deal is.