With her buoyant personality, Ruthie Dexter is fun to be around any time—but folks really cozy up around the holidays when she brings out her homemade cookies. A baking phenom since her Easy-Bake Oven days, by the time Ruthie brought Easter cookies to her colleagues at Shanty Creek Resort several years ago, she’d become so good that her boss asked her why she wasn’t in business. That was what Ruthie needed to quit her day job and start Ruthann’s Gourmet Bakery in Bellaire.
Nowadays, fulfilling orders as larges as 1,000 cookies at a time (for weddings and corporate gigs) is an everyday deal. Ruthie shared two of her favorite recipes with us: Ruthie Almond Sugar Cookies (below), and the other here.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup shortening (Crisco)
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- 3½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup meringue powder (available at most craft stores)
- ½ cup water
- 4 cups of powdered sugar
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first six ingredients. Stir in flour and baking powder. Roll out between sheets of wax paper sprinkled with flour. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove top sheet of wax paper and cut out cookies with cookie cutters of your choice. You may re-roll out scraps of dough, but handle it as little as possible.
Place cut out-dough on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake about 10 minutes—removing before the edges turn brown. Cool the cookies on the tray.
Combine first two ingredients and beat on high with an electric beater until stiff peaks form. Beating on low, slowly ad the powdered sugar. This mixture will be fairly thick. Divide into two bowls. Leave one bowl as is—this thicker icing will be for outlining your cookie. Add enough water to the second bowl to make the icing run off a spatula in a steady stream. Add desired food coloring.
Fill a pastry bag with the thicker icing and with a #2 pastry tip; outline the cookies. Fill a squeeze tube (the plastic type used for mustard, etc.) with the thinner icing and squeeze it over your cookies to fill in the icing. Decorate with sprinkles. Let the cookies set overnight before serving.