Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Best Holiday Cookie

  It should come as no surprise that all I really want to do right now instead of all of the multiple items on  my list: shopping, wrapping, decorating, cajoling, nagging and making dinner is to just bake cookies.  I have been waiting all month for today.  Finally enough time to mix up and bake the traditional holiday cookies that I learned to make in Val's kitchen.  Mrs. Riley's Jam Thumbprints, pecan balls and my favorite, sugar cut out cookies with frosting and sprinkles from the recipe in Val's Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery.  Of course there are other sweet treats such as Cape Cod Cranberry Bark and a new toffee recipe that I tried out this year to round out the gift bags. I change it up a little each year.  But I swear, if I ever thought of not making the sugar cut out cookies, I don't think anyone would forgive me.  Except, maybe the dog, since she doesn't eat them.
  These cookies have appeared before on this blog.  Last year they were featured for Valentine's Day.  That is the beauty of this recipe.  It can be adapted for any occasion, really.  Traditionally, though, in Val's house, we only make them for Christmas and in February for the 14th.  This allows us to really miss them.  So, it's worth it to go to all the effort.  No one ever gets sick of these frosted confections.
  I hope you have time to make some cookies of your own and maybe package up a few to give to friends.  But be warned: should you bestow a gift of these treats to anyone, they will be sure to expect more next year, and the next and the next get the picture.  Yes, these cookies are that good.
  Happy Holidays!  May you be blessed with warm hugs, laughter and lots of cookies!

Sugar Cut Out Cookies and Frosting
(makes 5-6 dozen)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 3/4 cup flour, plus extra for rolling

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5-7 tablespoons milk
red food coloring, red hots, sprinkles, etc

To make cookies:
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.  In another bowl, combine baking powder and flour.  Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine until smooth.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or freeze until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment or grease pans.
Roll out a small portion  of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-1/4 inch thickness.  (Leave the rest of the dough in the refrigerator until ready to use.)  Cut out dough using floured cookie cutters.  Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes until cookies are just golden on edges.  Remove from baking sheet and cool cookies on wire racks.  Once cookies are completely cooled (about 45 minutes), frost and decorate as desired.

To make frosting:
In a mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth.  Add 1 cup of sugar, and blend together.  Add vanilla and remaining sugar alternating with a tablespoon at a time of milk until desired consistency is met.  (The frosting should not be runny, but also not quite as thick as cake frosting.) Stir in 2-3 drops red food coloring for pink frosting.  Combine until all food coloring is incorporated.  Frost cookies and add red hots and/or sprinkles while frosting is still wet.  Let frosted cookies air dry for at least 4 hours before storing them in an airtight container.

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