Friday, December 18, 2009

christmas cookies

A week ago, two of my best girlfriends came over and we had a Christmas cookie baking party!  We had such a blast, and the cookies turned out so very tasty, that I had to share.  I used a sugar cookie recipe which is sort of a family one--it came from my aunt's mother.  It is delish!  I think it's the almond extract, but here: you may judge for yourselves.

Sugar Cookies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup crisco shortening
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons milk, heated
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Cream the first four ingredients (sugar, butter, shortening, and eggs)
2. Add the baking soda to half (4 T) of the hot milk, mix with above ingredients
3. Add the remaining 4 T of the milk
4. Sift together flour and cream of tartar, add to mixture
5. Add almond and vanilla extracts and salt, mix
6. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour
7. Roll out on floured surface and cut
8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes

The odd thing about this recipe is that, for whatever reason, the dough warms and softens very quickly, regardless of how long you refrigerate it.  What we end up doing is moving it to the freezer once we start cutting, and taking baseball-sized amounts out as we go.  If you're using large or complicated (has lots of little nooks and crannies) cookie cutters, I recommend sliding a spatula underneath the cookie (still in the cutter) to move it to the cookie sheet.  Our cookies got much prettier once we started doing that!  But you're still not done--you need icing!

These cookies taste best frosted with a mixture of powdered sugar, butter, milk, and almond extract.  And that's as much information as my mom's recipe card gives.  However, if you are like me and need more specific instructions, here's what I used:

Buttercream Frosting
from Domino Confectioners Sugar box

3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
milk (3-4 tablespoons to start)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
2. Beat at medium speed until creamy, adding milk as you go until you've got the consistency you want--be careful not to add too much, or the frosting won't set well
3. Separate frosting into small bowls or ramekins for dying--don't forget to leave one undyed if you want white!

After you've iced the cookies, leave them out for a good, long while.  I tried to store mine too soon, and the frosting ended up very smudged.  Still, smudged or not, within 4 days those cookies were gone.

top photo by Marley, others by me

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