My Kudos Kookies COOKIE Recipe And A GIVEAWAY

I think most of you probably already know that, years ago, I once had my own cookie business. But if you don't, let me tell you a little story...
It all started after a bakery I was working at closed their doors for business. I didn't start working there in any capacity other than the behind the counter girl/cashier. I loved my time there but ultimately wanted to be behind the scenes baking and decorating those wonderful confections that were so very popular with the customers. When times were slow I'd hang out in the kitchen washing dishes and would watch and learn from the head baker/decorator (Daphne) her tips and tricks for turning out lovely desserts. As time went on, I was invited to try my hand (i.e. practice) with the piping bags and icing colors and see what I could do. From there I was soon spending my time rolling cookie dough and in turn wound up being the go-to cookie decorator. I LOVED it and found that is was something that I was really pretty good at.

When the bakery had to close, I wasn't ready to give up my piping bags just yet. The timing was quite perfect as we had just remodeled our small non-functional kitchen into something much larger and much more user friendly. It was at that point that I'd decided I'd step up to the plate and try my hand at creating my own cookie business, out of my own kitchen. Thankfully, with the bakery closing I was able to purchase many of their items (baking sheets, cookie boxes etc) at a deeply discounted price so I could start my business almost immediately without having to shell out all sorts of additional cash for tons of supplies...but first I had to come up with very my own recipe for the cookies (and icing) as I didn't want to use the one the bakery had used. I knew I could do better with just a little bit of tasting and testing. Not long after, I was ready for business.

In order to gain customer visibility, I had asked my friends Tracey and Michael if they'd be willing to display my cookies in their local party rental store. I offered to coordinate my cookies to their paper goods for all sorts of different occasions. In a small way it would also benefit them and their rapidly growing business by offering something different to their clients that other rental stores didn't. They kindly said yes and I was off and running.

Over the next few years as my business grew, I decided that it was time to take more of a concrete stand in the running of a reputable food business. I took the proper courses and received my Illinois Food and Sanitation license (still good through 2015 I might add).  Don't ever let it be said that I only do things only half way. When I decide to jump, I use both feet and make the largest splash I can. Not always smart, but it's how I roll :)

I was also extremely fortunate in finding a local catering kitchen in my own hometown that allowed me to rent a tiny bit of kitchen space on a month-to-month basis. It was there that I'd spend my mornings, preparing my dough (recipe to follow) along with cutting and baking my cookies.

Then I would pack everything up, cling wrapping my baked cookies and transporting them home where I would ultimately work in my own home kitchen doing all the decorating and packaging. It was exhausting and my poor and achy feet were letting me know that they were not happy with the current situation. Ouch!

All during my time as a cookie artist I was making wonderful friends and connections in the decorated cookie community through the help of twitter and facebook. I can not explain to you how important it was for me to feel like a valued part of this ever growing community of wonderfully creative women. Many of these valued connections I made I still have today, even though our shared commonality of cookie decorating has faded away. One of those such connections is Bridget of Bake At 350.

Bridget is one of the nicest and sweetest cookie people I know and her talent knows no boundaries. At one point, she had even invited me to become a cookie "professor" on a website she was hosting at the time called  "University Of Cookie".  Needless to say, I was honored. I've always admired Bridget's creative cookies so when she came out with her very own cookie decorating book last fall I jumped at the chance to own one. (If you're interested in winning your very own copy of Bridget Edward's book "Decorating Cookies", hold on because I'm offering one free copy to someone at the very end of this post and it's the perfect accompaniment to the cookie recipe I'm sharing with you today.)

But, back to my story...and the recipe you've been waiting so patiently for...LOL!

With my poor old feet begging me to sit, I decided break out the paint brushes and try something new. I began painting my iced cookies with a mixture of food coloring and water. To my knowledge, it's something that had not been seen much in the cookie world at that time. This brainstorm worked in two ways: It satisfied my long lost desire to get back to painting (my first passion), and it stop my dogs from barking (i.e. my feet). Not my real dogs, they bark all the time. LOL.

Here are a few examples of the painted cookies I was doing at the time:

Who knew that painting on cookies would have renewed my love of painting so strongly? It wasn't long before I realized just how much I missed the brushes and paints and shortly there after, I hung up my cookie apron and decided to fully pursue my first true love of painting. (To see examples of my painted glassware and tile items, you can click on any of any of the portfolio pages found at the top of my blog or click on the "shop now" button for your opportunity to purchase my one of a kind hand painted items.) Oh, don't forget to like my page on facebook too!!!

There are so many things I'm thankful for having spent so many years baking and decorating those little edible works of art, and there are still times now and then when I miss my old cookie days. Naturally I miss the bond I shared with all those talented women who are continually breaking new ground in the edible cookie art community. I have the utmost respect for all of the talented cookie artists in the world and the amount of time and effort they spend on each and every little sugar cookie creation!!!

It's been almost 4 years since I've decorated cookies and was just recently asked to make cookie favors for my niece's bridal shower. While I would have never shared my recipe before, with this special request... NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME!

I know that you'll find this recipe is one of the best tasting sugar cookie recipes around! To this day people still tell me they crave the taste of my cookies. Other than the amazing flavor and delicate crumb these cookies possess, what you'll really appreciate is that they hold their shape during baking, which is essential for good sugar cookie decorating!

KUDOS KOOKIES COOKIES - Makes 2 pounds of dough, enough for 30 LARGE cookies

*Note - In the photos you'll see that I doubled the recipe as I wanted to have extra dough in my freezer so I could make cookies again at a moments notice. This dough freezes beautifully well, so why not make extra?

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoons salt

-In a stand mixer (or a large bowl and a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
-In a small bowl using a fork, whisk together the egg, cream, vanilla and lemon zest.
-Add the egg mixture into the creamed butter mixture, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
-In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
-Add the flour mixture, in thirds, into the butter/egg mixture, blending just until the mixture is combined and there is no more flour in the bottom of the bowl.
*Note - the less you beat the dough, the more tender your cookies will be.
-Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap (twice) and freeze until you're ready to cut and bake.
-When you're ready to bake, thaw the dough slightly (keeping it cool it key) until it's just pliable enough to roll.  I like to slice my dough into manageable pieces to make the rolling process easier and to help with thawing.
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
-Lightly flour your rolling surface (I like to use a marble board but a counter top surface works just fine), and using a silicone rolling pin or a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to and even 1/4" thickness. (I find that running my hand over the surface of the dough lets me know if the dough is of the same thickness everywhere, or if certain areas are thicker or thinner than others).
-Cut the dough into desired shapes and place the cut out shapes onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
*Note - you can re-roll the scraps several times to ensure you get the full cookie yield out of each batch.
-Place 2-3 cookie sheets into the oven at the same time (top, middle, bottom) and bake for approximately 10 minutes.
-Rotate the cookie sheets and continue baking for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges and bottom.
-Cool and decorate or cool, wrap and freeze to decorate at a later date.

The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe

Oops. Out of sequence. I forgot to show you the color of doneness you're looking for when your cookies are perfectly baked!

YUM! YUM! Now you have the perfect sugar cookie recipe to either start your own decorated sugar cookie company, or just make some really great cookies for your family and friends! The only other thing you'll still need are some terrifically cute designs and loads and loads of cookie decorating tips and inspiration.

But, guess what? I've got your back on this!!

I'm offering a special one-time FREE giveaway of the fabulous "how-to" cookie book from one of my favorite cookie decorators...EVER...Bridget Edwards of Bake at 350! WOOT!

Here is a quick sneak preview of Bridget's book and just a few of 60+  fun and whimsical designs you'll find inside, including easy step by step instructions so you can recreate all of the adorable cookies shown inside.

How completely fun are these???


Wondering how you can enter to win this book and begin baking and decorating right away????

I've decided to keep it simple. All you need to do is leave a comment below about why you'd really love to win this book. That's it! It could not be easier, right? Then, on July 4th, a random drawing will be done (we're pretty high tech around here, I'll have my husband pick a number between one and however many entries there are) and the lucky winner will be chosen and notified via email. THIS OFFER IS GOOD TO US RESIDENTS ONLY.  Good luck gang!

Well, if you've made it all the way to the bottom of this post and the end of my cookie story, I thank you! I'm continually overwhelmed by the amount of support I've received whether it be in the cookie community or in the area of decorative painting and blogging. I value you as a reader and hope you will come back often!

Kudos Kitchen By Renee ~ Where food and art collide on a regular basis!

Until we bake again, have a wonderfully sweet day :)

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