Jennie, I’ve got your number

When I was little, I thought I knew how to count.

The numbers went 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  6  7  5  3  0  9.

I was a child of the eighties. And a small enough child I didn’t know Tommy Tutone was singing about a phone number. Sigh, such innocence. (Incidentally, such a great and terrible song. Such a cringe-worthy video.)

Turns out twenty-odd years later however, I still can’t count.


Twenty Four

Create twenty four sweets and send them to someone you love

Yes, good sir,  I completed one of my Thirty Things. Huzzah!

Except I totally cheated. I did make 24 sweets for a sweetie. I just didn’t stop there. But lo! And hark ye! I had a very good reason.

It is Jennie’s birthday. Her thirtieth birthday. *

So, in honour of her big day, I made her a tea party in a box:

Her favourite tea, her favourite teacake, a very pretty tea towel – and 30 teapot shaped cookies.

Yes, it should have been 24, but honestly. Corny symbolism trumps an arbitrary list every time.

* Addendum:  I did, at the time, think she was turning 30. But I was wrong. She is  younger than I thought. Which puts a damper on my symbolic gesture (and is probably slightly offensive to the woman in question). Please hope (as I do) that I’ll be forgiven and that the extra teapot is a good luck symbol instead of being just a sad, sugary reminder of my fallible memory.

the full monty

Since you don’t get to open the pretty parcel (unless you are Jennie in which case Hello Lady, happy birthday!), I’ll tell you how to make your own cookies as a consolation prize.

This is my grandmother’s recipe for sugar cookies.

Experience with her other recipes leads me to believe either:

a) her mother made this one up, or

b) she got it off the back of a packet of flour.

And just like all of her recipes, it is dead simple and practically perfect in every way.

did you know Blackberrys have terrible cameras? ta da.

We made a batch of these every single Christmas Eve at my Grammy’s. Which maybe explains the batch size – we have a big, old Catholic family.

We’d make the cookies in the morning, and the kids (meaning me and an assortment of my nineteen cousins. I think it’s nineteen, I’ve honestly lost count) would spend all afternoon icing them. I was a big fan of sprinkles.

I think I learned most of my limited self-control adhering to the ‘No Finger Licking or You’re Out’ rule of frosting. It seemed so arbitrary. Such tantalizing cruelty, and on Christmas too.

Now of course I can see why it was enforced. Snotty child slobber biscuits are much less festive.

I still make these every Christmas.

Including the time my friends and I had a country cottage Christmas in rural Scotland.

Even the years we are at my pseudo-in-laws, which they think it’s adorable. And a bit nuts.

Um, in an effort at full disclosure it would be worth mentioning I didn’t only make 30 cookies. I maybe made 78.

And maybe I ate the rest of them (with Bean’s magnanimous help).

we totally didn’t eat the cute ones though, promise.

In my defence, teapots are a difficult shape to cut.  That may possibly be because I ate so much dough I made myself dizzy with sugar. Or because I have low hand-eye-coordination (owing to not playing enough video games in my childhood, I’m sure). Or that I am just plain lazy/clumsy/messy.

Whatever the reason, it took ages to get hang of these, both the cutting and the frosting.

I am glad I made extra – my first attempts probably echo the ones I iced at Grammy’s all those years ago (and yes, I still tried very hard to not lick my fingers). They could not be sent in a proper birthday package, I mean really. Look:

star nozzle: total failure

Several came out of the cutter really wonky – like this Aladdin’s Lamp happy accident. He was especially delicious.

I totally have Disney songs in my head now.

Plus, I made a few non-teapots with the leftover dough.

You see, the last time I made this recipe out of season was our first anniversary.

I made frogs. Hundreds of frogs. Bean has a thing for frogs. And for cookies. And how can I own an awesome frog cookie cutter and not make use of it given the opportunity? So we had a repeat handful of frogs to go into his lunchbox this time around.

(I know. I sometimes sicken myself with the doe-eyed domesticity too. But fuck it, it’s more fun than you think.)

I had not realised however that the cookiesheet-Tetris of teapot and frog would end up being so vulgar. Learn something new every day I guess.

Sugar Cookies

Makes 6-8 dozen

I added some of the directions because I am very particular about making very delicious sugar cookies, but otherwise it’s exactly the same as my Grammy’s. Also, fair warning: these measurements are in US cups.


for the dough

  • 2tsp Baking Powder
  • 5c Flour (+ extra for dusting)
  • 2tsp Salt
  • 2c Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1.5c Butter*

*or half butter, half shortening if you roll that way

for the icing

  • 1c powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • dash of milk
  • 1/2tsp vanilla
  • food colouring (optional)
    and/or store-bought tubes

*yes, I know: E numbers! Corn syrup! Also: Easy! Pretty! Done! 


pay no attention to the burnt ones behind the curtain

  • 2 bowls
  • 1 mixer
  • 2 rubber spatula or spoons
  • cling film
  • baking sheets
  • cookie cutters (or just tumblers for round cookies)
  • rolling pin*

*or in a pinch, tube of pringles or high ball glass.

Yes, I have totally been that desperate. Don’t judge.


making the dough

  • Whip together the softened butter and sugar until creamy
  • Add the vanilla
  • Beat in one egg at a time
  • Separately, mix the flour, salt & baking powder together
  • Add this dry mixture, bit by bit, into the wet – do this by hand near the end as it may be too tough on crappy-ass mixers like mine. It will probably still be a bit sticky still, but that’s okay. It’s going to be rolled and squeezed and floured so much, a little soft at this point is for the best.

clingfilm the bowl, leave in the fridge overnight, or for at least 2 hours

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 C
  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface – thicker dough ( 1/4-1/2 cm) will make puffy, slow bake cookies that are softer, but don’t retain their shape as well. Thinner dough (1/8cm) make prettier, crispier cookies. I usually do half and half to give myself the maximum taste:  aesthetic ratio
  • Cut into any shapes you like
  • Spatula onto an ungreased cookie sheet (or 12…)
  • Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness & shape, until the edges are a gentle golden colour

cool on a wire rack before icing

  • Make the icing by blending the milk & vanilla
  • Beat in the sugar a bit at a time until you get a good thick, spreadable texture
  • Divide into separate bowls and add food colouring as desired
  • Frost their little faces any which way you please


2 Responses to “Jennie, I’ve got your number”
  1. That was a really joy of a blog…


  2. serasara says:

    Having just realised I did not include quantities in the recipe, this seems rather fruitless. Will dig it out post haste and rectify my egregious cookie based sin. Dearie me.


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