The cookie that started it all.
Eleven years ago I rolled out my first batch of sugar cookie dough. My husband had gifted me a cookbook with a recipe that claimed to be the best sugar cookie ever. I gave it a try and turns out, it was not the best cookie, not even kind of. With every intention of making a great sugar cookie, I reached out to my in-laws who had always made delicious cookies during the holidays. They shared their list of ingredients and I attempted my second batch.
The process was a little rough around the edges. I didn’t have a set of directions or the tips or tools needed, just a list of ingredients with a baking temp. I found myself at a local craft store searching for any and every cookie tool. Icing tips, decorating bags, a rolling pin.. I didn’t even own a cookie cutter! I remember tossing an orange plastic pumpkin shaped cutter into my shopping cart thinking “pumpkins it is!”.
The second batch turned out a billion times better than the first attempt and I quickly became obsessed with perfecting a decorated sugar cookie with buttercream icing. I must have made sugar cookies every day for at least a month. I gave cookies to neighbors, family, friends, even the visitors at our church. I was addicted.
The cookie gains a name
Friends and family soon fell in love with my decorated buttercream cookies and began to refer to them as “Jenny Cookies”. The cookies were requested at every family gathering, social event or party. Friends of friends began asking for their own parties and soon I was baking for just about everyone I knew. People were enamored with the buttercream icing as opposed to royal icing which was ordinarily used on decorated shaped sugar cookies. Piping buttercream on cookies was not something commonly done, in fact, I had never seen it besides what my in-laws had done. As my skill level grew, I took on more difficult cookies shapes and projects, challenging myself to get better and learn more.
Celebrities love Jenny Cookies
Soon these delicately decorated cookies caught the attention of well-known celebrities. I spent much of 2010 and numerous trips since, traveling to LA to bake for celebrity parties and events. The more I baked, the more requests I received for cookies. It was a cookie phenomenon.
Jenny Cookies Classes
As the demand for Jenny Cookies increased, friends and acquaintances began asking for cookie lessons. Lunch dates with girlfriends turned into baking sessions in my kitchen. It was time to offer a cookie decorating class. I rented the kitchen at my children’s preschool and announced the class on my facebook page. The class sold out in less than 24 hours.
Eat More Dessert
After spending nearly 6 years polishing my signature sugar cookies, I had also expanded my baking and decorating skills to create what are now widely known as dessert tables. At the time, most people typically served a cake or cupcakes at parties whereas I was baking and creating a whole table full of treats centered around a party theme or concept. Dessert tables became a new “Jenny Keller” trademark and I was offered a cookbook deal to share my recipes and dessert styling tips with the world. In 2014, Eat More Dessert was published by Page Street Publishing.
Jenny Cookies Bake Shop
At the 10 year mark, I opened a bake shop in my hometown. It had been years since I had baked for an order though I was still receiving daily cookie and dessert requests. In December of 2016, Jenny Cookies Bake Shop opened in Lake Stevens, WA. Lines of customers wrapped around the building, waiting to try our famous treats. We regularly meet customers visiting from various US states as well as all over Washington state. The bake shop has become a destination bakery, with my buttercream sugar cookies as our top seller.
The Jenny Cookies Recipe
Over the years I have shared my recipes, tips and tricks on my website, cookbook, in magazines, workshops and social media. I’ve taught hundreds of aspiring bakers my secrets and skills so they too can feel proud of a dessert they’ve created. It’s incredible to see how many people have been inspired by my buttercream decorated sugar cookies. I told my husband in 2006, “I’m bringing buttercream back”. I think I’ve done just that.
Sugar Cookies (aka Jenny Cookies)
This recipe will always be dearest to me. Every time I tell students in my cookie workshops that these sugar cookies are fail-proof, they eye me suspiciously. But once they try it, they agree: Anyone can make them and everyone will love them.
makes about 24 cookies
3 CUPS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, PLUS MORE FOR ROLLING
2 TSP. ALUMINUM-FREE BAKING POWDER
1 CUP (2 STICKS) SALTED BUTTER, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
1 CUP SUGAR
1 LARGE EGG
2 TSP. PURE VANILLA EXTRACT
1. Into a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, beat butter and sugar for about 1½ minutes, or until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
3. Turn the mixer speed to low and carefully add the flour mixture a little at a time, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Once all the flour has been incorporated, the dough should form a ball around the mixing attachment and feel soft but not sticky.
4. Wrap the dough ball in a piece of plastic wrap and press down to form a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before rolling or store for up to 7 days tightly wrapped.
5. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured flat work surface to about ¼-inch thickness, using additional flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Use cookie cutters to create desired shapes, and carefully transfer with a cookie spatula to a nonstick baking sheet, placing the cookies about ¾ inch apart.
7. Bake one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven until puffy, about 7-8 minutes. Allow the cookies to rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
8. Repeat with the gathered scraps and remaining disk until all the dough has been used.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe
This basic buttercream frosting works for a variety of purposes. Depending on which dessert you’re making, this buttercream recipe may be tweaked. Add cocoa powder for a chocolate frosting or drop in some peppermint or lemon extract to pump up the flavor. If you live in a warm climate, it’s a good idea to use half the milk added to the buttercream recipe so the icing is firmer. It’s very fluffy and melts easily in warm weather.
Makes about 6 cups
1 CUP (225 G) IMPERIAL MARGARINE OR BUTTER (2 STICKS)
1 CUP (225 G) CRISCO VEGETABLE SHORTENING
2 POUNDS (907 G) CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR (ABOUT 71?2 CUPS)
2 TEASPOONS PURE VANILLA EXTRACT
3 TABLESPOONS (45 ML) WHOLE MILK
1. Combine the margarine and Crisco in the bowl of an electric mixer; using a paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
2. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating on low speed for an additional 2 minutes, or until the mixture is creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk, and beat until the frosting is creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add any food coloring at this time, if using, and beat on low speed until light and fluffy.
3. Use immediately or store in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 30 days.
I’d love to see your cookie creations! Tag me on social media @jennycookies or use the hashtag #jennycookies
Photography by Kelly Clare
Sugar Cookie and Buttercream Icing recipes copyright © 2014