I have been waiting to make strawberry rhubarb pie, and having just gone strawberry picking with some friends a few hours earlier, that seemed like the obvious choice. But strawberry picking with 4 kids under 5 is harder than you would think. I had to pick faster than 8 sticky hands could eat. There were a few moments when I actually had to jump across 3 rows to avoid the melee, the horde of children throwing caution to the wind and just plowing straight through. And I just now realized why I am so sore today....
The thought of making a pie was a bit much for me, and since neither of my children decided they needed a nap (and I majorly needed one!), cookies sounded much better!
I wanted to do something fun, like let the cousins decorate the cookies themselves. I thought about bringing the pre-cut uncooked cookies over for the kids to decorate with sugars, but the mess factor held me back. Then I thought about icing.... I could cook the cookies beforehand, and put together little icings for the kids to use themselves. Bingo!
I decided to have the kids decorate outside, which I think was my brightest moment of the day. Icing is quite a bit messier than sugar... But it was way more fun!
the icing on the cookie cookies
adapted from Nigella Lawson, How to be a Domestic Goddess
3/4 c. softened Earth Balance butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 c. cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted, and food coloring
Preheat oven to 350.
On medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Lower the speed and add the flour mixture a bit at a time. Halve the dough, form into patties, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour, to let the dough rest. I like to put the second patty in the freezer, once it has cooled in the fridge, so I have a tasty, easy dessert for a lazy day.
Sprinkle work surface liberally with flour, plop the dough down, add more flour to the top of that, and roll out the dough (one patty at a time), until it's about 1/4 of an inch thick. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutters into flour in between cuts, and place the cookies on a greased baking sheet. Bake 8-12 minutes, and let cool on cooling rack.
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl, and add 3 tbs hot, almost boiling, water. Mix to form a thick paste. Add more water, sparingly, if you want thinner icing. I usually use about 3 1/2 tbs. And now the fun part: adding color.. I really can't say it better than Nigella, "let the artistic spirit within you speak, remembering with gratitude that children have very bad taste."