Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"C" is for Christmas Cookie...That's Good Enough for Me!

As I wait for the next snow storm, I am making cookies for the Christmas that in all likely hood is going to be postponed until Saturday. This first round of cookies will go to neighbors that have been so kind and helpful during this kind of stressful period we are going through. And I am sure I will save some for our dinner on Saturday. The thing is, making cookies is not my favorite thing to do. But since everyone seems to expect it, I do it. I am much more looking forward to cooking the dinner on Saturday. But these are good cookies. So I'm sharing.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs one at a time and then extracts. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. It is really important that this part is done by hand and not mixer. It helps to keep the cookie dough tender. Chill for at least 1 hour. With the weather the way it has been, I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and set it out on top of the deep freeze in the garage overnight. Worked great!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. I always bake my cookies in a slow oven. Years ago I acquired a Mrs. Fields Cookie cookbook and she bakes all her cookies at 325. It keeps them tender and less likely to burn.

Another tip I ran across was to roll the dough out on lightly floured parchment paper, cut out the cookies, pull off the scraps, and lift the paper onto the cookie sheet. For the most part it works pretty well. I did have to roll out the last few cookies of each pan on a separate floured surface and transferred them to the pan.

Bake cookies for 13-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookie. My cookies were between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick and took about 15 minutes. Let cool for a minute or two on the sheet and then remove to racks to finish cooling.

I then frosted them with a butter-cream cheese icing. I used 8 oz. of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, powdered sugar to make it stiff enough to spread (probably about 1 1/2 lbs.), and about a tablespoon or so of evaporated milk. And I used lots of red, white, and green sprinkles. I decided to just stick with white icing, but you could certainly add food coloring to it. I just didn't want to deal with the extra mess. I think the cookies turned out quite lovely anyway.

This recipe makes a huge amount of cookies. You could easily half the recipe. My cutters were about 2 1/2 inches and I ended up with about 7 dozen cookies. Hope my neighbors like cookies!

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