Merry Christmas to all you bloggers, followers, likers, pintresters, tweeter, facebookers and foodies! Today we gathered a few of the nieces, lay our fingers aside our noses and give a nod to an ages old tradition – the Christmas cookie! After all, we have to keep the big guy full of energy on Christmas Eve.
This recipe comes courtesy of our older sister, Theresa’s recipe box. I copied it down from one of her recipe cards some 20 years ago and it’s the only recipe I’ve needed since.
4 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Sift flour and baking powder together in a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix butter, sugar and salt on medium speed for around 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl. On low speed, mix in vanilla and eggs until thoroughly combined. Add in flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before use.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For softer, cakey cookies: Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees. 350 makes the cookies extra cakey while 375 is a little firmer. I’ve even gone as low as 325. The cookies pictured were baked at 375.
On a lightly floured board, roll out cookie dough to desired thickness. Using cookie cutters, carefully cut out desired shape, trying to use the dough as efficiently as possible. Collect the scraps, roll them out, then cut more shapes. Do not use the dough scraps past this point.
Bake cookies for around 8 minutes or until the bottom edge of the cookie is golden brown and the edges of the cookies are just barely brown. Cooking time will vary based on personal preference for thickness as well as the size and shape of cookie cutter you use. When done, remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Frost and decorate as desired.
Sugar Cookie Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
On low speed, mix together butter and powdered sugar until well combined. Turn mixer to medium speed and mix until fluffy and creamy. Mix in vanilla to fully incorporate. Mix in milk to finish. At this point, you can color or flavor your frosting as desired. Frost and decorate cookies. Let frosted cookies dry at room temperature for at least an hour or until frosting is set. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.
A few tips:
If you are planning a cookie decorating party, cut and bake cookies and prepare frostings and decorations ahead of time. I like to put my frosting colors in piping bags and secure the ends tightly with twist ties for easy decorating. Simply cut a small hole in the tip of the bag and decorate. When you are done, throw the bags away. Also, have guests decorate cookies when they first arrive so the icing will be nicely set by the time they leave.
Want to have cookie dough on hand for unexpected visitors or the occasional after school snack of milk and cookies? Store a log of dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for several months. When you want cookies, preheat the oven, slice of dough rounds and bake as desired.
Don’t forget the reindeer! Santa might love cookies but the reindeer are hungry from all that flying! We hear they love carrots and celery.