Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Sugar Cookies

I have no memory of making any kind of Christmas cookie when I was a kid, except cut-out sugar cookies. We never frosted them, but just dusted the unbaked dough shapes with colored sugar, or, occasionally, some other sugary sprinkles. My brother and I got better at attractively distributing our red and green sparkles as we got older, at least a little bit. I don’t think any of my childhood Christmas seasons went by without these sweet treats.

For some reason, I don’t have my mom’s cut-out Christmas cookie recipe. I don’t suppose there’s much difference between the satisfactory recipes. I got this one from the Food Network, but I altered it a bit. I settled on this recipe so long ago, that I don’t remember why I made the changes I did. They were good changes, I think, so I see no reason to go back.

These cookies have some brown sugar in them, along with the usual white sugar, which makes both the dough and the finished product just a bit softer. Usually, to save time and preserve patience, I shape the dough into logs and slice it into rounds to bake rather than rolling it out and cutting shapes with cookie cutters. The dough is a little stickier when rolling it out, so be prepared to take a little extra time and re-chill a dough as needed.

I really wish I’d had the time and space to cut out stars and bells and Santas and trees and reindeer with over-browned antlers. I had great visions of beautiful photos of them. I did make a butter frosting, however, with which to decorate my pretty round cookies (more on that soon), and that will have to do. It may never snow, I may not have much Christmas vacation time, I might not have my Christmas shopping done, but I do have pretty, sweet, delightful Christmas Sugar Cookies in the house, and so it’s Christmastime. And all is well.

Sugar Cookies

This cookie dough can be shaped into logs and sliced or can be rolled out and cut into holiday shapes. Use your favorite method to decorate them.

3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar (for the work surface if rolling the dough out to cut into shapes)
Colored sugar, sprinkles, icing or frosting to decorate

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk or sift together to combine. Set aside.

2. Combine the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until fluffy and light in color. Add the egg and vanilla and beat in until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating on low speed until all the mixture has been incorporated and the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a rough ball. Shape the dough into two logs about 3 inches in diameter, or shape into 2 disks. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or place in a freezer bag and freeze for a couple months).

4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Remove one dough log or disk at a time from the refrigerator. Slice disks a scant ¼ -inch thick from the logs or roll out the dough ¼ -inch thick on a work surface dusted with powdered sugar and cut into desired shapes. Arrange the dough on the prepared cookie sheets leaving at least 1 inch between them. If not frosting, distribute colored sugar or sprinkles over the unbaked cookies

5. Bake at 375 F for 7-9 minutes or until the cookies appear dry on top and gently brown on the bottom. Cool on the pan about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Cool completely if decorating with frosting or icing.

The number of cookies in this batch will depend on how large your cookie shapes are.

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