Baker’s Solstice Countdown: December 5: Holiday Sugar Cookies

Let’s be honest with each other. Baking sugar cookies during the holidays is…well, more about the decorating than the eating. Don’t look at me like that, you know the sugar cookies are the last ones left on the cookie plates after holiday gatherings.

Don’t let that happen to you this year. Those of you who are having holiday gatherings will not have to coax your guests to eat these; you will possibly have to fight them to get one.

These sugar cookies are light, crisp, and buttery. The recipe uses vanilla extract and almond extract, for a more interesting flavor. I roll them nice and thin, starting with well-chilled dough and a floured surface. They bake up extra crispy that way.

Of course, there is also the decorating. I like to sprinkle colored sugar and sprinkles on these before baking, and they are also lovely decorated with royal icing. I intend to do a batch with royal icing, but today was not a good day for that, due to the extra “humidity” in the air. Yes, snow counts as humidity. Royal icing dries faster on dry days. Don’t be mad. It’s just science.

Holiday Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well, then add vanilla and almond extracts and mix in well.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until well blended.
  3. Divide dough into two parts, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator until stiff enough to roll.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. On a well-floured surface, roll out one portion of dough to 1/8-inch thickness, lifting and turning dough to prevent it sticking to the surface (flour the dough and rolling pin lightly if necessary).
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut out desired shapes with cutters, and transfer to baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Gather the scraps into a disc and re-roll, or wrap in plastic wrap and chill if the dough has softened too much.
  6. Decorate with colored sugar and sprinkles, if desired. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just lightly browned at the edges. Remove sheet to a cooling rack to rest for a minute, then transfer cookies to the rack with a spatula to cool completely. (If using icing to decorate, wait until the cookies are fully cooled.)

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