Recipe development can be a precarious business, filled with ups and downs, wasted ingredients and way too many dishes to count. Some of us overthink things. Some of us underthink things. And some recipes are just downright flops. (Note to self: There is a such thing as too much cinnamon.) Some people, though, seem to possess the innate ability to invent the most delicious ideas out of thin air. For those lucky few, despite the drudgery we might except such work to take, the approach is more felt than calculated. It’s simplistic and almost childlike, based in food memories and an understanding of basic likes and dislikes.
I like to think that Beany has a pretty good grasp of how a kitchen operates, at least by 3-year-old standards, but I do think she still looks at it as a sort of magical place where cookies and tacos and Thanksgiving dinner are born from things found in the refrigerator. It’s a simplistic understanding of the process, sure, but in a way, isn’t that exactly what it is? Looking at cooking and baking through Beany’s eyes reminds me exactly why kids can be such great kitchen companions. They know what they like, they know what they don’t like, and they’re unhindered by fears of failure. Think it; make it. Try, and see. That’s their approach, and surprisingly often, it’s a pretty good one.
So this is the story of Beany and her very first recipe, a dessert (no surprise there) that she aptly titled “goodnight cookies.” It started with a simple question:
“What should we bake today?”
“Cookies!” she said.
“What kind of cookies?”
“How about goodnight cookies, Mommy?”
“Goodnight cookies? What do those look like?”
“Moons. With sprinkles. And sweet, like my birthday cake.”
I can’t make every Lego “ice-cream house” or drawing of “all my princess friends” come to life, but this I could do. Based on Beany’s careful instructions and a whole lot of sprinkles, we made her “goodnight cookies.”
I wish you could have seen her face when we pulled them from the oven. Magic.
Beany’s Goodnight Cookies
Recipe by Beany
For the sugar cookie dough:
• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla (This is to keep the lightest-colored dough possible and funfetti-ish taste, but pure vanilla works fine, too.)
• ½ cup sprinkles (artificial seems to work best), plus more for sprinkling on top of icing
For the vanilla glaze:
• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 3-4 tablespoons warm water
• 1 teaspoon clear imitation vanilla
In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Using electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, and cream until fluffy (takes about two minutes). Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Turn mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients, and mix until fully incorporated. Fold in the sprinkles.
Form dough into disk shape, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Roll out dough on floured surface until it’s about ¼-inch thick. Cut out your moon shapes (to prevent sticking, try flouring the cookie cutters before using), and place about an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes (or until edges turn golden brown). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cookies are cool, you can add the glaze (simply mix the powdered sugar with the water and vanilla, and add more water or powdered sugar to reach desired consistency). Dip the cookies in the glaze, and place them back on the wire rack to dry. Before the glaze hardens, sprinkle a few sprinkles on top.