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Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I made a million of these this holiday season, for my cookie boxes, in the shape of Yule trees (pictured at left). It's a solid recipe I've used since I was about ten and my mom made cookies for Easter. The little trick to these is the almond extract--it makes them taste fancy, almost like wedding cake. The confectioners sugar in the dough makes for a fine-textured cookie. Of course, keep the dough chilled for rolling, but not too cold. Leave these overnight in the fridge, and you'll want to take the dough out at least an hour before rolling.

Also, watch these in the oven! Seriously. They really do take about 7-8 minutes to bake and you really want a barely golden brown bottom on this cookie, especially if you don't exactly cool your cookies on a a separate cooling rack (I don't, mostly because I don't have the room)--they'll continue to cook a little out of the oven (carryover cooking it's called, which I learned from Alton Brown). These keep really well, especially with icing. They also ship well!

Have fun with the shapes, but if you're going for quantity, stick with one shape, frosting color and additional decors--it'll be much easier, trust me.

By the way, this recipe came with train and bear cookie cutters that was a very involved little design--the cutters made indentations into the cookies with details on the bear's face and body and the train engine's little parts. I don't know where those cookie cutters are anymore, but the recipe is live and kicking. I finally wrote it down next year, instead of making my mom dig through her ancient version of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, where she had stuck the card with the recipe on it, every time I wanted to make them.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (use the real, not imitation)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Cream the butter with the sugar, stirring until combined.
2. Add the egg, mix until good and combined.
3. Add the extracts. Again, use the real almond stuff. The imitation really doesn't taste the same.
4. Separately sift the flour and baking soda.
5. Add dry ingredients to the wet in 3 batches, combining thoroughly before adding the next bit.
6. Chill 2-3 hours in the fridge, or blast it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
8. Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use your cutesy cookie cutters.
9. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until lightly golden brown around the edges. Taste one warm, just because they're so yummy.
10. Frost (frosting recipe below) or eat plain.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

1 pound confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 large egg white
Water, on the cold side
Food coloring (optional, but so much fun)

1. Mix the confectioners sugar and egg white. It won't really mix well, because there's not enough liquid, but you don't want to dump water in immediately.
2. Add water by tablespoons until you get a thick frosting. Thankfully, this is a forgiving frosting, so if it turns out to be too runny, just add more sugar. Too thick? More water! Add food coloring to your desired color.
3. Spread onto cookies in a thin layer. This frosting sets hard, so let the cookies dry a while before storing. 30 minutes will work, overnight is better (especially if shipping).

This frosting keeps well in the fridge. All it needs is a little time at room temperature and a good stir--it'll be good as new.

These really are the best sugar cookies I've tried for cut-outs and I've tried several. They are incredibly tasty.
posted by Rose @ 5:45 AM  
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