Snowbound? Induce a fantasy.

I was text chatting with my dear friend Chris this morning and discovered that she and her 10-year old son, Matthew,  were snowbound in their home in a suburb of Chicago.  Yesterday, her son played outside all day but on this day it was too cold and they were stuck inside for the day.  Chris shared with me her great remedy for cabin fever: induce a fantasy.

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I recalled the great blizzard of 1967.  I was 8,  snowbound and out of school for weeks, and also had ADHD.  So, when I couldn’t build my  elaborate architectural snow forts and was stuck inside, my mother pointed me to the kitchen and said “Bake something, just clean up when you’re done.” She patiently answered all my questions all day and it was indeed, an all day affair. Consequently, I learned how to bake during that blizzard of ’67 and have carried the skills of timing and cooking proportions with me through life.

Chris said she had exactly the same idea except she bought one other ingredient, Campari!  I texted  “Campari!”, as in- I’m lying on my chaise poolside at La Scalinatella on Capri in August” she texted..”You know me so well!”.

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Photo Credit: Keystone Kidtopia

Ok, I admit that my forts were not exactly as elaborate as this fort at Kidtopia-Keystone Resort in Colorado,  but my baking became up to par with this recipe from Williams Sonoma.  Here’s a start for your kids to come in and get warmed up.

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You’ll need to plan ahead with this recipe because the dough must be chilled for 1 hour.  These cookies are fun to decorate with your friends!
Ingredients:
For the cookie dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter,  at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the decorating icing:
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons warm water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 or 3 drops food coloring (optional)
Colored sugars, sprinkles and/or candies
  for decorating
Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients
In a bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until blended. Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. The dough will look lumpy, like moist pebbles.
Shape the dough
Dump the dough onto a work surface and press together into a solid mound. Divide in half. Press each pile into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Roll out the dough
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 3 baking sheets with butter.
Sprinkle a work surface with some flour. Unwrap 1 chilled disk of dough and place it on the floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more flour. Roll out the dough with the rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle more flour under and over the dough as needed so it doesnt stick.
Cut out shapes
Cut a shape out of the dough with a round cookie cutter. Set the cutout on a baking sheet. Repeat, cutting as close as possible to the previous shape and spacing the cutouts about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Set the scraps of dough aside and repeat with the second chilled disk of dough. Smash all the scraps together, roll the dough out and cut out more shapes.
Bake and cool the cookies
When 1 baking sheet is full, put it in the oven and bake the cookies until light brown around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Move the cookies onto the rack with a metal spatula and let cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.
Make the icing
In a bowl, using a whisk or an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the confectioners sugar, warm water and corn syrup until smooth. Add the food coloring. You can divide the icing among 2 or 3 small bowls and make each one a different color by adding a few drops of food coloring to each bowl.
Decorate the cookies using colored sugars, sprinkles and/or candies (see related tip at right). Makes about 36 cookies.

Snowbound?  Induce your own Fantasy.

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