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Ah, the moment Twin Falls has been waiting for... Mama's cookie recipes!

These were the items we brought to every event, without fail. It wasn't the farmer's market unless we brought at least ONE type of cookie (usually chocolate chip).

There is one funky ingredient that you'll see in each recipe: shortening. I know, not everyone has that in their pantry, but it was a necessity for mine and here's why-- it makes your cookies softer. When your cookies are baking, the melting point of your fats matters. Margarine melts the fastest, which is why cookies baked with margarine are flattest. Butter is a little slower, but can still get you flat cookies. Shortening melts the slowest, giving you nice thick cookies. You can't bake with just shortening; it lacks flavor and can make your cookies dry. So I do a half butter, half shortening mix for most of my recipes, which gives them the nice buttery flavor with the softness of the shortening.

Sugar Cookies

1/3 cup shortening

2 sticks butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tsp salt

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, shortening, and sugar. Cream at medium-high speed until fluffy and pale. Add eggs and vanilla, creaming again until fluffy. Add flour and salt to the bowl, stirring on medium-low until fully combined. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until dough is firm.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Dust counter lightly with flour and roll dough out to 1/4 inch. Cut with cookie cutters and place on prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. Freeze on sheets for 8-10 minutes or until solid and won't dimple when poked. You can re-roll the dough 2-3 more times, keeping the counter lightly dusted (too much flour can make your cookies tough).

Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter (3 inch cutters will take about 10, while 4-5 inch cutters will take more like 15+ minutes). They're done when the tops of the cookies are dry and the edges are just barely browned. Allow to cool on cookie sheets for 5-10 minutes.

Once the cookies are fully cooled, ice if desired.

Royal Icing

6 cups powdered sugar

4 eggs whites (or 2/3 cup carton egg whites)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cream of tartar

Food coloring (I used gel food coloring for maximum color saturation)

Whisk together powdered sugar, egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Divide into bowls to color if using multiple colors.

To fill piping bags, open bag and line a glass cup with the bag. Allow top of bag to hang over the lip of the glass. Scoop icing into bag, twist bag closed and tie off with rubber band.

For helpful icing techniques, head to Sweet Amb's YouTube page! I watched hours upon hours of her videos to learn her techniques and tips. I was absolute garbage when I first started, but with lots of practice, you can get really proficient. For practice, you can pipe a design onto a cookie then scrape it off for a new "canvas".

Allow your cookies to set overnight on a baking sheet (leaving them on cooling racks will cause the base to go stale). This royal icing is a "soft bite" recipe, so these should not be stacked once set, unless it's okay that the design gets dinged up.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1 stick butter, softened

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed down

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 Tb honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup (I like maple the best)

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups bread flour (all purpose works too, but bread flour gives a chewy texture)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

10 oz chocolate chips or chunks (milk, semi-sweet, and dark all work well! We used semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare three baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment.

In a stand mixer, combine butter, shortening, sugars. Cream together at medium-high speed until fluffy and pale. Add eggs, honey, and vanilla and cream again until no longer wet in appearance.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture and stir together until fully combined. Add chocolate chips and stir on low speed so the chips don't get broken up.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls (I weighed mine out to 40 grams), place on sheets 2 inches apart, and bake for 6 minutes. Rotate sheets, then continue baking for 7 more, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven, but allow the cookies to cool on sheets for 10 minutes more (they'll continue to cook on the sheets outside of the oven).

Oatmeal Raisin (tweaked from Quaker Oats' recipe)

1 stick butter, softened

6 Tb shortening

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

dash of cloves

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups oats

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking sheets.

Cream together butter, shortening, and sugars together until fluffy and pale. Add eggs and vanilla, cream again.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together. Add to butter mixture and stir until fully combined. Add oats and raisins and stir again.

Using a 1 1/2 Tb cookie scoop, scoop hefty balls of dough onto lined sheets, spacing them out 2 inches apart. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate sheets, then continue baking for another 7, or until cookies are lightly browned on top. Allow to cool on sheets for 10 minutes so they set.

Gingerbread Men and House

I can't claim this one; it was perfect from the first time I tried it! Check out Sally's Baking Addiction recipes here and here for gingerbread men and gingerbread houses (don't use the recipe for the men for houses; the dough is too soft and it'll fall in!).

Happy baking!

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