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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Favorite: Decorated Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs! (Holiday Baking, Part 11)

If there is one cookie that says "Merry Christmas" or, to be P.C. "Happy Holidays" it is the decorated sugar cookie. I know, I's a lot of work (well, if done in stages it's not really that bad), but the payoff is wonderful. I have always loved the reactions I get from people about the beautiful and tasty cookies. This is pretty much my favorite part of all things baking, knowing that I've made something that has brightened someone's day just a bit. Now, I'm not bragging, really I'm not. If you make some decorated sugar cookies, decorated however you like, even if they look weird or funky to you, they will be a fabulous work of art to someone who knows the effort that went into these cookies. I tend to make brightly colored swirly cookies...I also make pig shaped cookies...I'm not sure why I make them, for some reason they seemed festive and no one but me questions their place amongst the stars and other seasonal shapes (sadly this year I will not be making the pig cookies because the cutter for them got lost in our cross country move this last April. I am bummed). I usually also make Dragonfly cookies, but I fear with the distance that many of my cookies will have to travel this year, that these will be too delicate (I also lost this cookie cutter in the I wouldn't have been able to make them anyway. wah!). The fun part of these cookies is the decorating..and if you have little children, let them get in on the fun also. I went to a friend's house one year with baked cookies and icing so a group of kids could decorate them. It was awesome to see what they could come up with and obvious that they were having a good time. Enough of my praise of these cookies! Here is the recipe I use:

Sugar cookie cutouts:
(can't really tell you how many they make..It depends on the size and shape cookie cutter you have and how patient you are with rolling out and cutting cookies)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
-Cream together butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy (about 5 to 10 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
-Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Chill the dough for a few hours or overnight.
-Preheat oven to 350f.

-Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch or less thick (depends on how big you want your cookies, but if they are a thicker cookie, you will need to bake them longer).
-Cut into any silly or festive shapes that you like, and place on parchement lined sheet pans. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges just start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

-Mix up your favorite kind of icing to decorate with (I just make something with butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and a bit of salt, no real measurments, well, except to keep the salt to a teaspoon or so depending on how much you are making) color the icing and decorate away! Or use decorating sugar, dragees, etc...

Share these with someone and watch them smile.

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Brilynn said...

I'm jealous of your icing skills. I'll be practicing mine tomorrow, sugar cookies are on the menu! (Maybe I'll just copy everything you do...)

Jen the bread freak said...

Awwww, thanks, Brilynn. Yay! cookies! I think my icing skills are related to the fact that I was a freaky child and was decorating (or trying to) little wilton cakes at the age of 12. Have fun with your cookies!

Anna said...

Those are gorgeous cookies! I also think they would make yummy christmas tree decorations. I'm curious, how did you put the icing on the cookies?

Jen the bread freak said...

Hello Anna, first of all, thank you for the compliment! I made a bunch of parchment paper cones and cut little holes in the tips and use them for icing the cookies. I hadn't made parchement cones for awhile and was a bit rusty at first, but it does come back to me after I've struggled through the first two or three. I have found a nice little website here:
that shows how to make them :).

Cinara said...

These cookies are works of art, Jen! Just yesterday a posted a sugar cookie recipe in my blog, but they are soft sugar cookies. Cutouts are not a tradition at Christmas time here in Brazil, but I like to bake them sometimes, and also gingerbread men. They are quite a hit! But not as pretty as yours, of course...

Jen the bread freak said...

Thank you much, Cinara :D. I always like to think of stained glass or the like when I decorate the star cookies , it makes me happy. I am going to have to check out your sugar cookie recipe! I don't have one for a soft sugar cookie, so it will be a wonderful addition to my collection!

peabody said...

Those are my favorite of all the Christmas cookies.
Great job on icing them.

Jen the bread freak said...

Thank you Peabody! I find icing them to be the most enjoyable part :D