Today, instead of spending five minutes and $3 picking up a box of sugar cookies from the grocery store, I spent three hours and $15 to make my own. Totally worth it? I think so. Not to say that the homemade kind is any less terrible for you than the store bought kind... in fact, I think you should pretend not to see the ingredients and just remind yourself that indulging is part of the holidays.
Without further ado... how to make adorable, delectable Christmas sugar cookies.
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
5 1/2 cups flour
Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer. I like call my mixer "Tanner." He was doing this by hand to begin with, but then remembered his mom gave him an electric mixer a while back, and the prospect of using a power tool to make cookies was too enticing to ignore. Needless to say, things got creamed in quite a hurry after that.
Add eggs and vanilla to sugar/butter mixture. Add sour cream. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and then add to butter mixture. It will be really sticky at this point and hard to shape, so chilling the dough is essential.
If you have wax paper, divide your dough into four parts and refrigerate. Ideally, you should chill it overnight, but I was impatient and wanted to make cookies, so I only chilled it for an hour.
In the meantime, you can create the frosting for the cookies.
Buttercream frosting ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
This actually makes a lot of frosting, so if you're not a frosting person, you might consider cutting back the recipe. We piled it on and still had a lot left over.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Beat in sugar and vanilla until crumbly. Gradually add milk until you get the desired consistency. A good power mixer helps make it smooth and fluffy.
Tanner and I divided the frosting into two bowls and added in red and green food coloring to make it more Christmassy. Unfortunately, instead of a nice forest green and burgundy, we ended up with mint and pink. Perhaps we should have made these for Easter, instead...
When the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface (flour is important... even after chilling it will still be sticky) about 1/8" - 1/4" thick, depending on how big and soft you want your cookies. Use cookie cutters to make shapes, or, if you're like me and do not own cookie cutters, cut them by hand. Here's a tip: don't get fancy. Cutting out Christmas trees by hand was about the fanciest thing I could do without it looking like a big blob.
(P.S.- check out those awesome snowflakes on the window behind Tanner!)
Put the cookies on a greased pan and bake 5-7 minutes at 375 degrees. It's important to keep an eye on them -- my oven is hot so I only baked them five minutes. They won't look cooked, but if you cook them much longer, the edges will go brown, the bottoms will be burnt, and you'll have a very crispy cookie. Five minutes was just enough for the bottoms to be brown and the tops to still be white.
Let cool before you put frosting on them. Tanner and I got overzealous and iced them right away, and it melted all over everything. Both messy and delicious. Do yourself a favor and wait until they're completely cool. Add sprinkles to make the cookies look more like decorated Christmas trees!
Depending on the thickness of your cookies, this recipe yields about 30-50. I actually was able to make 55 cookies, but mine were fairly small, only 2" tall. This will be the brunt of your work, though, is spending hours rolling out dough, cutting dough, and cooking/ icing cookies. It helps if you eat a bunch in the process. :) Enjoy!
I'm glad there's a holiday party at my work this week, because there's no way I can keep 50 cookies in the household without eating them all and gaining 20 pounds in the process.