It comes as no surprise to most that I’m obsessed with the holidays. I’m neither Christian nor Jewish, yet I love Christmas and Hanukkah dearly, for the dreidels and latkes, the gelt and the menorah, Santa and his reindeer, the carols, the lights, and above all, the cutely decorated cookies. It never ceases to amaze me how intricately people can design a piece of sugar, butter and flour — the shapes, the different frosting colors, the patterns. While I’m no big fan of sugar cookies in general, they form the best base for these designs, and so, ignoring my total lack of cookie decorating skills, I decided I needed to find the perfect Christmas sugar cookie recipe for the holidays.
Naturally, I turned to Martha and Ms. Stewart did not disappoint. She had an array of cookie recipes, but I chose the Christmas sugar cookies for their pretty star shape. We won’t talk about why I didn’t have my assortment of holiday-themed cookie cutters, but I found that the top of a martini shaker makes perfectly sized cookies, enough to get a few good bites, but not so big that I’m too full to reach for a second cookie after I’ve finished my first. I’ll never buy a round cookie cutter again.
I changed the recipe slightly to make it a one bowl, one measuring cup affair. I also rolled mine a little thicker, as I prefer chewy sugar cookies to crisp ones. Unfortunately I’ve discovered that I lack the hand-eye coordination to make intricately frosted cookies, but these cookies look just as pretty with a little colored sugar sprinkled on top. They’re the perfect festive treat for the holiday!
Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies
Recipe from Martha Stewart
Yield: 4 dozen cookies, 2 inches in diameter
– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– sprinkling sugar, etc. for decorating
1) In a large, cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until combined.
2) Divide the dough in two and flatten each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic and freeze for at least 20 minutes, until firm. (Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months and thawed overnight in the fridge.)
3) Once the dough is slightly firm, roll out to 1/4-inch thickness, dusting dough with flour as necessary. Cut shapes using cookie cutters and place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps and repeat.
4) Bake at 325˚F until edges are golden, 15-18 minutes. If using colored sugar, sprinkle on the hot cookie and press the sugar gently into the cookie. If icing, frost the cookie once it is cooled (add sprinkles, etc. when frosting is wet) and allow it to harden before eating, about 20 minutes.