Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, December 20th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies are perfect for any time of year…
Last year, my friend and neighbor Brooke Trennepohl, asked if I could provide some cookies for a “Frozen” themed birthday party she was throwing, and I happily agreed. I immediately went to work on testing recipes for both cookie and frosting. I found that the basic sugar cookie lacked flavor so I went to work on what I could add or take away, to make the cookie taste better and more like the ones I remembered from my childhood. During my childhood my grandparents and I would always decorate sugar cookies about a week before Christmas. I remember my Grandma Deloris and I decorating the cookies with bright blue frosting and all colors of sprinkles and decorations before I would dig in and eat most before she could even box them for me, to take them home. My Grandma Barbra and I would decorate the cookies with different colored sugars before baking them. Both were equally delicious and memorable. Ever since, I bake some type of Holiday cookie around Christmas, decorated or not, and I always remember the times and memories tied in with each cookie baking experience.
After experimenting with several different flavorings and sugars for this recipe, I found that a little pure almond extract really added to the overall flavor of the cookie, and really paired nice with the pure vanilla extract that I found essential to the cookie. After adding a little more flour than most recipes, a little more salt and an extra egg, what I would consider to be the “perfect” cut-out sugar cookie recipe was born. I use this recipe for anytime I want a delicious cut-out sugar cookie. Birthdays, Holidays, or just every day, I hope this recipe brings you great memories like it has for me…
Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before starting this recipe. There are a variety of ways to top these (if desired) but my favorite ways are by using royal icing, or a tinted buttercream frosting. Experiment and have fun! To make royal icing, beat 4 large egg whites until foamy. Gradually add in 4 cups powdered sugar and the juice from one lemon. Beat until thick and glossy. To make tinted buttercream frosting, beat 2 sticks of unsalted butter together with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Next add 3 ½ cups powdered sugar and beat well. Finish by adding ¼ teaspoon salt and heavy cream until you reach your desired consistency. You will need around 3 tablespoons of heavy cream.
5 cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter
2 cups white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, stir together 4 cups of the white all-purpose flour with the baking powder and salt until everything is combined. This is an easier and quicker way of “sifting” together the ingredients. Sit aside the other 1 cup of white all-purpose flour for sprinkling when ready to roll out the dough later.
In a separate large bowl, beat together the unsalted butter and white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture.
Next, add the 2 large eggs, pure almond extract and pure vanilla extract to the beaten butter and sugar mixture and combine until fully incorporated.
Gradually, add the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing a little at a time until a soft dough forms around your wooden spoon.
Turn the dough out onto the counter, and divide into two equal parts. Using the palms of your hands, flatten each out into a disk shape and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
When ready to roll out and cut your cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow them to stand at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before rolling with your rolling pin.
When ready to roll out, lightly sprinkle a flat work surface and rolling pin with the reserved white all-purpose flour. Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll out the dough until about ¼-inch thick.
Cut out the cookies, using your desired cookie cutters, and transfer the cookies onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets. Repeat this process once with the leftover dough and discard the scraps. Repeat with the 2nd disc of dough.
When ready to bake off the cookies, place in preheated oven for 15 minutes until set and lightly golden brown in color.
Allow the cookies to cool on their baking sheets, before removing.
Decorate the cookies in any way that you desire before serving and eating.