And Visions of Sugar Cookies

December 6, 2010

Only three weeks to go before Christmas, and by the looks of bags of flour, sugar and colored sprinkles at the checkout counter at the grocery store, a lot of folks are beginning to think about baking cookies. I always love this time of year for making specialty cookies. I make a lot of them, but I save the best for last. That means sugar cookies!

Crunchy, thin and with a delicious vanilla taste, these are my favorites and the ones most requested by my family. I bake and freeze them already decorated so all I need to do is take them out as needed. Here are 10 tips for making them.

  1. Make and chill the dough overnight.
  2. If the eggs are too cold when ready to add them, place them in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes before adding to the batter.
  3. Roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper; this eliminates having to use too much flour which would make the cookies tough.
  4. Keep scraps in the refrigerator to re-roll; it it gets too soft, it will be more difficult.
  5. Use rimless baking sheets; they bake more evenly.
  6. Bake the cookies at lower temperature of 325F just until set; watch because they can turn brown on the edges very quickly.
  7. Let them cool on the bake sheets for 3-4 minutes then remove with a wide face spatula.
  8. Cool all the cookies, then frost with your favorite icing. Allow to dry at least 4 hours.
  9. Store in single layers between sheets of wax paper in tupperware tins.
  10. Don’t forget to leave a few for Santa!

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Makes 5 dozen or more

4 cups unbleached all purpose flour lightly spooned into measuring cup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/4- cup or more of half and half (use only enough to make an icing that flows off the spoon like a glaze)
Colored sugars for decoration (optional)

Combine icing ingredients until smooth. Keep covered until ready to use.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until well blended and light colored. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Lower the speed and beat in the flour mixture until well blended.

Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of wax paper. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

When ready to roll, cut off a quarter of the dough and roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut into shapes. Re-roll scraps.

Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and bake until just lightly golden; do not let burn.

Cool on wire racks, then frost.

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