Friday, December 19, 2014

SAND TARTS - the Tradition Continues

The "whole" view of the process of making sand tarts.
This recipe has been passed down through my father's family.
The process has evolved even throughout my time of making them.

I'll share the recipe at the end of the post and some tips
along the way.  And of course this is just what works
for me, I'm sure each has their own preferences.

A few things to keep in mind, the dough must be cold and remain
cold throughout the process.  I refrigerate the dough over night
and only remove a handful at a time from the frig to work
with.  I also turn the house heat down and open a window
or door a little and run a ceiling fan to keep the 
kitchen from getting too warm.

The idea is to keep the butter from melting until it's in the oven.
So the colder it stays and the less you handle the dough
the better.  Makes for a thinner, crisper cookie, not the
kind you ice after cooled.

This is my set-up, the island in our new home is a great
place for making cookies.
I use a marble rolling pin, my mother used a wooden one, they 
both work.  We both roll on a cotton cloth, feed sack
to be exact, this one is over 30 years old.  Only
gets used once of twice a year so hasn't worn out.

I like this cloth because of the bright design.
I know the dough is thin enough when I can see the cloth design
through the dough.  Takes plenty of flour on the cloth and
on the dough, but not so much that it looks solid white like on the 
left in the picture below, I would brush off that flour.

The soup bowl of flour is for dipping the cutter and for
spreading on the cloth and dough.
I also primarily use metal cutters they make a much
sharper cut which is easier to pick up to put on the
cookie sheet.

I decorate the cookies with colored sugar and
Holiday sprinkles.

The cookies are cooled on white flour sack fabric.
This is about 1/2 of the cookies from 1 batch of dough.

Ellie helped to decorate a few of the cookies.
She was very serious, didn't say a word just
kept working. 
Note:  she's not 2 yet, must teach them early!

She was intrigued by the little red balls and wanted
to pick just those out to decorate this star.

With some direction and encouragement from mommy,
she moved onto little pinches of decorations for the rest 
of the stars.

She worked hard on this process and didn't try
to eat the dough or decorations. 

Then we worked on the fine art of patting down the
sprinkles so they don't just roll off the dough.
This was a harder concept.

Oops, this cut out slid on top of another one.
Good sign they won't stick to the cookie sheet.
Mommy to the rescue.

And the final inspection before it goes into the oven.

The final product - 264 cookies.

Grandma Horst's Sand Tarts
2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine (I use butter)
2 eggs
pinch of salt
some vanilla (can you tell this is an old recipe)
4 Tbsp water
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Cream sugar and softened butter together, add eggs, salt and vanilla.  Add flour one cup at a time along with baking soda and cream of tartar.  Add water as the mixture becomes too dry.  Form into a ball, place in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.

Roll thin with flour, cut with cookie cutters, decorate and bake.

Bake 325 to 350 degrees until light brown.  Cool, store in air tight container.  Enjoy!

This is a labor intensive process but the cookies are DELICIOUS!
and a staple for our Christmas celebrations.
I only remember one year not making these cookies,
that's when my left wrist was in a cast and I couldn't
use the rolling pin.  So we had Valentine Sand Tarts instead.

Please comment if I missed something or you have a question.


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