New Recipe: Recipe: Giant break-apart sugar cookies to celebrate gathering for the first time in a long time in person

Makes two 12-inch cookies

When it was time to celebrate two vaxxes plus two weeks, I made dinner for friends who were in our pod during the pandemic — for a gathering in person around my table. I needed something suitably grand for the long-awaited moment. Something round, for continuity and endurance; something sweet, for this would surely be a pleasurable moment; something that spoke of community, for getting each other through it all. So I made my mother’s trusty sugar cookie dough, a recipe I’m convinced came from the back of the Spritz package (Spritz is a cookie press that you fill with dough and attach a decorative tip to make fancy shapes). I use the dough to stamp out rounds that are not terribly sweet but flaky. Instead of little cookies, I decided to bake the dough as giant break-apart cookies. I got the idea from a relatively obscure Italian almond cake called sbrisolona that I had at a tiny island restaurant in Italy’s lake district. It came already broken up and the craggly pieces were divine. I assembled the simple butter dough in a mixer, divided it in half, and rolled each portion between sheets of parchment paper until they were as thin as I could get them. Then I rested the dough, and rolled it again until I had two 12-inch round-ish pieces (really they were more like ovals). After dusting them generously with sugar, I made many rows of fork tines to keep the dough from puffing; the tines actually made a nice design. As the rounds baked, the edges turned golden and quite crisp. Just as the center was beginning to take on some color, I pulled them from the oven and slid the parchment onto wire racks to cool. Then I set them onto a large platter and broke them into big pieces. You could see where the wedges once formed rounds, like a broken plate whose pieces you’ve gathered in order to glue them back together. We all had a broken year. But we put it back together, kept friendships alive, checked in, helped neighbors, did what we could. It might have been the intimacy of dining together, the candle light, the good company; whatever it was, those cookies tasted delicious.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
cups flour
Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Have on hand 2 rimless baking sheets and 4 sheets of parchment paper the size of the sheets.

2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and light. Add the sugar and beat until it is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and salt.

3. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour in 3 portions, scraping down the sides of the bowl often and working in any floury pieces at the bottom of the bowl, until the mixture forms a dough. Lift the bowl from the mixer stand and make sure there are no dry pieces at the bottom. Pat the dough several times until it is smooth. Use a bench scraper or stiff rubber spatula to divide the dough in half.

4. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

5. Set 1 sheet of parchment paper on the counter and sprinkle it with sugar. Set half the dough in the middle. Shape the dough with your hands to form a compact round with smooth edges. Flatten the dough with your hand to form a thick cake. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Set another sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll out the dough, turning the parchment papers often, and flipping the papers over so you also roll the underside. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you roll out the remaining dough in the same way. Refrigerate the second dough.

6. Take the first dough from the fridge and roll it again, turning the papers often and flipping them over until the dough is at least 12 inches long and at least 8 inches wide. Aim for rounds, but you’ll probably get ovals. You may need to refrigerate the dough one more time before a final roll. Do the same with the second round of dough.

7. When the rounds are as thin as you can get them, lift off and discard the top piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough generously with sugar. With a fork, press the tines into the dough in rows, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

8. Bake the rounds for 20 to 22 minutes, switching the position of the baking sheets from back to front (and top to bottom if necessary), or until the edges are browned and the middle is starting to color. Slide the rounds off the baking sheets onto wire racks to cool. Set on a large platter and break into very large pieces.

Sheryl Julian

Makes two 12-inch cookies

When it was time to celebrate two vaxxes plus two weeks, I made dinner for friends who were in our pod during the pandemic — for a gathering in person around my table. I needed something suitably grand for the long-awaited moment. Something round, for continuity and endurance; something sweet, for this would surely be a pleasurable moment; something that spoke of community, for getting each other through it all. So I made my mother’s trusty sugar cookie dough, a recipe I’m convinced came from the back of the Spritz package (Spritz is a cookie press that you fill with dough and attach a decorative tip to make fancy shapes). I use the dough to stamp out rounds that are not terribly sweet but flaky. Instead of little cookies, I decided to bake the dough as giant break-apart cookies. I got the idea from a relatively obscure Italian almond cake called sbrisolona that I had at a tiny island restaurant in Italy’s lake district. It came already broken up and the craggly pieces were divine. I assembled the simple butter dough in a mixer, divided it in half, and rolled each portion between sheets of parchment paper until they were as thin as I could get them. Then I rested the dough, and rolled it again until I had two 12-inch round-ish pieces (really they were more like ovals). After dusting them generously with sugar, I made many rows of fork tines to keep the dough from puffing; the tines actually made a nice design. As the rounds baked, the edges turned golden and quite crisp. Just as the center was beginning to take on some color, I pulled them from the oven and slid the parchment onto wire racks to cool. Then I set them onto a large platter and broke them into big pieces. You could see where the wedges once formed rounds, like a broken plate whose pieces you’ve gathered in order to glue them back together. We all had a broken year. But we put it back together, kept friendships alive, checked in, helped neighbors, did what we could. It might have been the intimacy of dining together, the candle light, the good company; whatever it was, those cookies tasted delicious.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
cups flour
Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Have on hand 2 rimless baking sheets and 4 sheets of parchment paper the size of the sheets.

2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and light. Add the sugar and beat until it is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and salt.

3. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour in 3 portions, scraping down the sides of the bowl often and working in any floury pieces at the bottom of the bowl, until the mixture forms a dough. Lift the bowl from the mixer stand and make sure there are no dry pieces at the bottom. Pat the dough several times until it is smooth. Use a bench scraper or stiff rubber spatula to divide the dough in half.

4. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

5. Set 1 sheet of parchment paper on the counter and sprinkle it with sugar. Set half the dough in the middle. Shape the dough with your hands to form a compact round with smooth edges. Flatten the dough with your hand to form a thick cake. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Set another sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll out the dough, turning the parchment papers often, and flipping the papers over so you also roll the underside. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you roll out the remaining dough in the same way. Refrigerate the second dough.

6. Take the first dough from the fridge and roll it again, turning the papers often and flipping them over until the dough is at least 12 inches long and at least 8 inches wide. Aim for rounds, but you’ll probably get ovals. You may need to refrigerate the dough one more time before a final roll. Do the same with the second round of dough.

7. When the rounds are as thin as you can get them, lift off and discard the top piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough generously with sugar. With a fork, press the tines into the dough in rows, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

8. Bake the rounds for 20 to 22 minutes, switching the position of the baking sheets from back to front (and top to bottom if necessary), or until the edges are browned and the middle is starting to color. Slide the rounds off the baking sheets onto wire racks to cool. Set on a large platter and break into very large pieces.Sheryl Julian



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