In our family, making cookies is part of our holiday season traditions. There are the family favorites, the ones we make every year because we only make them during this time and we must get our yearly fill. And then, there are the ones that rotate through: the favorite of a friend or one we saw in the paper and had to try. It ends up like a cookie smorgasbord—as many varieties as there are individual favorites. By the time the first of the year rolls around, the sugar intake is so high, we almost beg to throw the sweets out!
One of our yearly favorites is frosted sugar cookies. My little ones like to help with cutting out the holiday shapes and they love to add frosting and sprinkles. Oh, and they love to eat them.
When it comes to a sugar cookie dough to use with cookie cutters, we like a cookie that holds its shape during baking and can hold up to the rigors of little hands trying to add frosting. I like a version that isn't too sweet either since the frosting will take care of that. I also love the addition of almond extract. So here is one of my favorite recipes, from The Decorated Cookie.
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (optional)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter
5 cups powdered sugar
2 drops almond extract
splash of milk
1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and blend well. Add the vanilla and optional almond extract and blend. Combine the flour and salt together in a bowl and gradually add to the butter mix.
2. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill the dough about 2 hours.
3. Work with 1/3 of the dough at a time, rolling it out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out desired shapes.
4. Bake cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 375F for 10-14 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden.
5. When the cookies are cooled, they'll need some frosting. You could use our recipe here, or a few other frosting options: For a simple glaze that dries shiny and hard, we like this recipe. For the classic buttercream version, we like this one. But, for that in between variety I like this throw-together version:
6. Combine the almond extract and melted butter.
7. Stir together, adding more milk and powdered sugar as needed until the right consistency and taste is achieved.
8. Tint with food coloring if desired and spread on cookies.
So get to mixing and rolling and cutting and frosting and of course, eating. Happy sweet holiday baking!