Simple sugar cookies are an excellent empty canvas for kids to create artistic confections!
What you’ll need:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup softened butter
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 3 tablespoons half-and-half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- liquid food coloring
- food-safe decorating brush (optional)
- parchment paper
- rolling pin
Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter, and blend until mixture is crumbly. With a fork, stir in egg, vanilla, and half-and-half. Mix well using the fork and then your hands. Chill dough for 1 hour.
While the dough is chilling, talk with your child about the painting technique made famous by artist Jackson Pollock. Take a look at his The Wooden Horse in Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum, and seek out some of Pollock’s other work online. Talk about how he dripped, drizzled, poured, splashed, and splattered paint onto large canvases. Get your child thinking about how to achieve similar abstract results on a smaller sugar cookie canvas as you roll out the chilled dough on a floured surface.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll to ¼-inch thickness, and cut into canvases of various shapes and sizes.
Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place a few canvases on the paper, leaving plenty of room between them. If your dough is getting warm, put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.
Provide your child with liquid food coloring—the kind that comes in little squeeze bottles works best. Let them drip and drizzle, then use a straw to gently blow the drops of food coloring around on the canvas cookie. Let your child try other drip and splatter techniques using a food-safe decorating brush dipped in food coloring.
Bake cookies for 7 minutes or until very lightly brown. Cool on a baking rack, then enjoy with milk and books for an artful storytime.
If you want a whiter, sweeter canvas, bake the sugar cookies, let cool, then cover them with white royal icing, leaving some aside (2 large egg whites, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 3 cups sifted powdered sugar, thoroughly beaten). Let royal icing dry. Thin remaining royal icing with additional lemon juice. Put in small bowls and add a different food coloring to each. Have your child use the colors and the food-safe decorating brush to try a watercolor technique on the white canvas cookies, or use the icing as Jackson Pollock would—flicking and dripping it on the canvas! If your child prefers to draw, provide food coloring markers and cookie canvases with dried royal icing.