For some reason I have never made a tradition of making Christmas sugar cookies during the holidays. I’m not sure why, as I enjoy decorating them as much as I love to eat them. Maybe it’s because I’ve never found a recipe where the dough is easy to work with and the baked cookie tastes just right. Like every other recipe I have tried from Baked, these turned out perfectly. The dough was very easy to work with-not too sticky, not too dry, and they baked well without spreading too much. The best part, once baked they tasted amazing. The second and perhaps most important part, is the frosting. Or in this case icing. Frosting is good if you want a spreadable topping on the cookies and have a more whipped-like consistency. I prefer icing, because it is easier to fill in the shapes of the cookies nicely (with a piping bag) and dries to a nice, shiny finish. These were so easy and fun to make I will be making them every year from now on! The only thing that was missing according to David? Red hots. Yes. Yes. I too love red hots, so I will be making these again for Valentine’s day. With heart-shaped cookies, pink icing, and….red hots.
makes: 15-18 2 1/2 inch cookies, more if your cookies are smaller
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
sprinkles/candies/sanding sugars/red hots for decorating
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until just combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dust a work surface with flour. Unwrap the chilled dough, and put it directly on the work surface. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut shapes in the dough, and transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Remove from the oven and place the baking sheet on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice until the mixture is completely smooth. The mixture should have the texture of a glaze. If the mixture is too thin, add a bit more sugar. If the mixture is too thick, add a few drops of lemon juice. You can add a few drops of food coloring if desired, or you can divide the icing among many mixing bowls if need more than one color.
The best way to ice sugar cookies is with a pastry bag fitted with a small or medium tip. First, outline the cookie or design, then fill it in. Let the icing harden before serving.
The cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen for a few weeks.
note: if you are traveling with sugar cookies or mailing them, make sure to place a sheet of waxed or parchment paper between the layers of cookies. Even thought the cookies may appear completely dry, they can smear or stick to other cookies during transit.