The Holiday cookie baking continues! My family loves this project & recipe more than anything during the Holidays. They ask for weeks when we are going to make our Holiday Sugar (cut out) Cookies. They love setting up stations to roll out all the dough. They pick their favorite Christmas cookie cutters and all the fun jimmies to decorate with. They each have an apron they put on to reduce the amount of flour & sugar they get on themselves.
My kids tend to pick the largest cookie cutters. I know they are thinking that if they make the cookie, they will also get to eat it. For years, they always decided which cookie Santa would love best to go with his Eggnog. Of course, Santa just loves Eggnog w/his Christmas cookies at our house. Somehow I end up having to make another trip to the store before the actual Holiday because the Eggnog doesn’t seem to last very long around my husband and kids.
I have been making these cookies for years and I always thought they needed another level of flavor. So I started to add some lemon zest to them. I just love the hint of lemon in these cookies. It adds a little brightness & freshness to the cookie and it doesn’t overpower the cookie. My family absolutely loves them now with the lemon. My husband even requests for me to add the lemon to the dough.
Happy Holidays and may you enjoy making holiday traditions with your families.
Dee’s Holiday Sugar Cookies w/Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies (depending on how big your cookie cutters are)
1 Cup, Butter, unsalted & softened
1 1/2 Cups, Sugar
1 Teaspoon, Pure Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 3/4 Cup, All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon, Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon, Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
4 oz, Cream Cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons, Butter, softened
2 Cups, Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon, Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon, Pure Maple Syrup
Splash (about 1 teaspoon), Eggnog
Rolling out Cookies:
Powdered Sugar or Flour, to dust counter and rolling pins with
In a standing mixer, combine butter and sugar and mix on medium speed until nice and creamy.
Add the egg and mix well. Then add vanilla and lemon zest and combine all ingredients.
Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until all combined. It will start to form a ball of dough. Remove from mixer, place dough on plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill, for approx. 1 hour.
Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat.
Get everything out that you will need to make your cookies. I like to setup a station on my kitchen island with rolling pins, powdered sugar (for dusting counter and rolling pins), cookie cutters and of course the dough! Since my kids and husband usually like to help make these cookies, I split my dough into quarters so everyone gets to work on rolling it out and cutting their shapes.
Roll dough out to about 1/4″ in thickness. If they are too thick the cookie will expand too much in oven and lose its shape. Place cut outs onto baking sheet and leave about 1″ in-between each cookie. If dough is too soft after you rolled it out and cut your shapes you can stick the baking sheet into the fridge for 5 minutes or so to chill again. This will help the cookie not to fall too quickly in the oven.
Bake for approx 7-8 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on how big/thick your cookie dough is. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes before removing from baking sheet. Once slightly cooled, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Once all cookies have completely cooled, then you are ready to start icing and decorating them!
While you are baking the cookies you can make your icing. In your standing mixer, combine all the icing ingredients and mix well until nice and smooth & creamy. I like to add the eggnog for our Xmas cookies but you can also use a little milk instead.
For Xmas cookies, I like to make a few batches of this icing and split into 3 separate bowls. I use red and green food coloring. We end up with 1 white icing, 1 red icing and 1 green icing. If your mixer doesn’t combine the color completely into the icing, remove bowl from standing mixer and finish stirring it by hand until all the white icing turns the color you added. Creating fun colors to the icing is easy and perfect for holiday cookie decorating! You can use any colors you like. Have fun with it. I place the icing into the fridge to chill while the cookies are cooling.
I like to make batches of this dough; it keeps well in the fridge. It also freezes well so you can use at a later time. Be sure to wrap it up well. If freezing, wrap in plastic wrap and then place dough into a freezer bag. Mark your bag so you know what’s inside along with a date!
After all the cookies have been rolled out and baked I like to setup a cookie decorating station on my kitchen island. I place my bowls of icing with 2 knives in each (that way more than 1 person can use the same color at the same time). I then put all our jimmies in small ramekins or bowls and place those out. We have out cooling racks with all the fun cookies we baked and an extra plate or platter to place all the decorated cookies on.
This is a fun project for the kids to work on. They look forward to making these cookies every year. They get to pick any shapes they want (for their cookies) and they get to decorate them any way they like. I usually do one tray of cookies that I like so I can decorate my own. This year I made stars and my husband and I decorated them with snowflakes.
I like to use powdered sugar to roll out our cookies; it keeps the dough from getting too thick. You can also use flour if you don’t have any powdered sugar.
If we make a lot of cookies I will place some in the freezer in airtight containers. Be sure to put wax paper in-between each layer of cookies so they don’t stick to each other. Before placing in containers with layers I place the cookies in the fridge to set/harden the icing on the cookie. These freeze well and they thaw out quickly; you can pull a batch out whenever you need them over the Holidays.