Hands Across America Cookies
Holidays are fast approaching and our country is still ricocheting from the divisive election. Now it’s the time for festivals and welcoming a new year.
The holidays at this season– with the Christmas tree lights, Hanukah candles, and the Kwanza lights –are our way to bring brightness into the dark time of the year. Soon daylight will slowly start its yearly advance.
Many of us are baking for our friends and family. Perhaps you’re part of a cookie club and exchange treats, stories, and good cheer. My hands across America cookies remind us of the spirit of America and unification, brotherhood, and beauty of our human diversity. Plus these cookies are great fun to do and yummy.
Cookie cutters in the shape of a hand are pretty easy to find. There are even ‘families’ of hands. In a pinch, trace your own hand on cardboard or a flexible plastic sheet, then cut it out. Place the pattern on the dough, and then cut around the board.
You can use your favorite cookie cutter recipe. Here’s mine:
4 cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and the grated zest of 2 lemons
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.
Stir in vanilla or lemon juice and zest. Divide the dough into four and use food dye to color the dough into various skin colors, kneading in the color. Wrap each ball in plastic and chill for one hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
On floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8” thick. Cut into shapes. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet and chill until firm (about 30 minutes).
Bake until edges start to brown (about eight to ten minutes).
Cool on wire racks.
Decorate with frosting.
4 Tablespoons of milk,
½ teaspoon of almond extract
4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
Stir milk and extract into confectioners’ sugar. Add more milk if necessary.
Now the fun begins. You are limited only by your imagination. Here’re some of the things that I’ve tried: Color the dough with food colors to get the different skin tones. As you can see, some of the frosting is chocolate, but I used food dye for most of the various colors. The colored frosting in tubes make it easy and fun to decorate the cookies. Sprinkles of various colors and flavors work as great embellishments. How about almond fingernails?
You can almost imagine different characters from the decorated hands. Great fun to do with kids and grandkids.
Please let me know some of your ideas… and I’d love to see pictures!
And, of course, I’m wishing you a wonderful holiday season and 2017.