Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

My Favorite Christmas Cut Out Cookies

“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” – Buddy the Elf
One of my favorite things to do at Christmastime is baking. I love to hunker down in my kitchen with some festive tunes and make a big mess in the process.

In years past I assembled boxes full of sweets for all our friends, neighbors, and co-workers: several types of cookies, toffee, truffles, mint patties, buckeye balls, fudge, shortcake, caramels… I think the sugar went to my head! This year I scaled back to our very favorites: sugar cookies, peppermint patties, and buckeye balls.

After I shared my cookies on Instagram earlier this week I had a few friends ask for my recipe and tips so I am sharing that today.

The Cookie Recipe:

My favorite cutout cookie recipe is found on The Kitchn. I used to feel sugar cookies were only a vessel for frosting, but I will happily eat these ones plain! I love the blend of almond and lemon. (I tend to go heavier on the lemon than this recipe indicates.) Or if you prefer more of a spice flavor I think this could be easily altered by leaving out the lemon and adding cinnamon and nutmeg.

View the full recipe here.

Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies from The Kitchn

2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size. Bake at 350.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Separately mix wet and dry ingredients, then slowly mix together. I roll out the dough immediately, but this freezes well too.

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

 

Tips on Cut Outs:
I roll out the dough immediately to .5″ and use a holiday cookie cutter set from Williams Sonoma. I line a tray with parchment paper and put the cookies on the tray. Then I stick the tray in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. I take them out of the freezer and immediately bake them for 10~ minutes. Freezing them really helps the cookies keep their shape while baking.
Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips
Tips on Frosting:
I am still on the hunt for the “perfect” icing recipe. This year I tried a recipe from AllRecipes. I found it to be a little thick, but after I thinned it out with some milk felt it worked very well and set nicely.
Icing Recipe:

 

I tripled this recipe and divided it into 6 colors – white, dark blue, light blue, green, red, and yellow/orange. I scoop the icing into a sandwich bag and snip off a teeny-tiny corner of the bag and pipe them by hand. Instead of icing one cookie at a time I do one color at a time. For example: I take the white frosting and do all the snowflakes, all the Santa beards, then all the white candy cane stripes. Then I let it set and come back with another color. When I’m done icing I stick them in the freezer (or out on our porch!) to set for 30 minutes or so.

To make the process as enjoyable as possible (that is the point, after all) I bake the cookies on one day and keep them in the freezer until I have time to decorate them. I usually end up doing a late-night icing session and do about 100 cookies in 2 hours or so. I keep adding details until my hand cramps up – then I call it a day!

 

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

 

These cookies freeze very nicely. I put parchment paper between layers of cookies and store them in plastic tupperware. I bring batches to all our holiday parties, and to Christmas celebrations with our families. We usually end up enjoying the last batch around New Years and they are just as good as the first day!
Enjoy!

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