Over the last few years I’ve tried several recipes for Sugar Cut-Out Cookies and this year I finally found ‘the one.’ Finding the right cookie recipe is like finding your spouse, once you find it you’re not going to let it go and you’ll spend the rest of your life with it. This recipe is just that good!
Many recipes taste good but the cookies spread out too much while baking causing the perfectly cut out tree to look like a indistinguishable blob. This recipe is a tried-and-true from Martha Stewart, the cookies taste good and bake beautifully.
Martha’s Christmas Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp of brandy (or apple juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or maple syrup)
Sift together the dry ingredients. In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light; add the egg, brandy, and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and mix well until blended. Wrap and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured board, roll out one third of the dough at a time. Roll to about 1/4 to 1/6 inch thick and cut out with cookie cutters. Put shapes on parchment lined (or greased) baking sheets (place in freezer in between batches) and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. Cool on racks.
Decorate with Royal Icing. I purchased these really fun pearl sprinkles at Williams Sonoma.
Martha’s Royal Icing
2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 egg white*
5-6 drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mix the sugar, egg white, and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. It should have the consistency of heavy cream (you may need to add a bit more sugar or lemon juice). Add desired amount of food coloring.
*You can substitute dried egg whites. Place icing in separate bowls to mix in colors then use a spatula to transfer into small baggies. Cut off a small edge of the baggie and ice (I use my finger to spread out the icing as needed).
Every year I hope to have the tradition of making Christmas cookies. The last two years I have had a special opportunity to host International friends at my house to make cookies. With the exception of my German friend, it was their first Christmas cookie experience. This year we had several talented artists and cooks in the group. My friend from Taiwan proved to be an excellent icing decorator and my friend from Turkey proved her excellence in cooking by her technique to roll out the dough perfectly by using syranwrap in between the dough and rolling pin. She also brought with her some delicious lentil soup and homemade rolls to share with us. The rest of us enjoyed making the funniest looking cookies and eating the ones that didn’t look good enough to decorate.
It was a beautiful evening, celebrating culture and friendship. We toasted to our German friend who is going back to Germany and we enjoyed stories of Christmas and Winter holidays from around the world.