Introduction: Classic Christmas Cookies

Picture of Classic Christmas Cookies

Simple, buttery sugar cookies and creamy vanilla frosting - with a 'healthier' twist.


No food colouring or artificial colours used.


The colours displayed in icing on these decadent traditional Western treats are achieved through the use of spice and herbal dyes inspired by Eastern treats.


Follow the recipe used in this instructable closely for a fail-proof step-by-step how-to for a sweet and easy dessert to serve around Christmas, other themed holidays or any day you've got a craving.

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients

 

You will need the following:


Oven pre-heated to 300°F
Baking Trays / Cookie Sheets
Cookie Cutters

 

 

Cookies:

3 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Butter
1 cup Granulated White Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp Salt


Basic White Frosting:

1 1/2 cups Icing Sugar / Confectioner's Sugar
3 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Milk / Coconut Milk


Natural Brown Dye (add per every 1/3 - 1/2 cup basic white frosting):

2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves


Natural Orange/Red Dye (add per every 1/3 - 1/2 cup basic white frosting):

2 tsp Paprika
1/8 tsp Cinnamon 
(for different reddish shades alternate with annatto or beet-root powder)


Natural Yellow Dye (add per every 1/3 - 1/2 cup basic white frosting):

2 tsp Turmeric
1/8 tsp Ground Ginger


Natural Green Dye (add per every 1/3 - 1/2 cup basic white frosting):

2 tsp Ground Sage
1/8 tsp Ground Thyme or Kelp Powder

Step 2: Cookie Dough

Picture of Cookie Dough

Ingredients:

3 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Butter
1 cup Granulated White Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp Salt

Instructions:

Cream together 1 1/2 cups butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/8 tsp salt and 1 cup granulated white sugar. Once smoothly blended, add 3 cups flour and mix. Dough will be very soft and possibly a little crumbly - handle it carefully.

Step 3: Roll, Cut & Bake

Picture of Roll, Cut & Bake

Preheat your oven to 300°F.


Roll out the cookie dough and use liberal amounts of flour to keep it from sticking to your hands, the pin and the counter. Cut shapes, re-roll the remnants, cut more shapes and place them all on lightly greased or lined cookie sheets.


Bake at 300°F for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown. Yield 35-40 cookies, depending on your chosen size.


If you'd like to cut calories, sugar or fat - stop here. These cookies are sweet and decadent all on their own. You can also dust them with a small amount of granulated white sugar right before baking for a satisfying middle ground between rich frosting or none.

Step 4: Basic White Frosting

Picture of Basic White Frosting

Ingredients:


1 1/2 cups Icing Sugar / Confectioner's Sugar
3 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Milk / Coconut Milk

Instructions:

Sift the icing sugar first - it has a tendency to get clumpy. Next cream together butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk in a medium bowl until smooth and lump-free.

Step 5: Natural Dyes

Picture of Natural Dyes

Instructions:

Split the basic white frosting into 5 separate bags or dishes and set one aside to leave white.


Natural Brown Dye:
2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves


Natural Orange/Red Dye:
2 tsp Paprika
1/8 tsp Cinnamon 
(for different reddish shades alternate with annatto or beet-root powder)


Natural Yellow Dye:
2 tsp Turmeric
1/8 tsp Ground Ginger


Natural Green Dye:
2 tsp Ground Sage
1/8 tsp Ground Thyme or Kelp Powder

Step 6: Frost the Cookies

Picture of Frost the Cookies

Start with a base colour for the main body of each cookie and let dry (if you've got a big batch and go slowly the first ones will be dry long before you finish the last ones), then pipe a second (and possibly third or fourth) colour of frosting over each cookie to emphasize detail. Let dry sitting flat before stacking on top of one another on a cookie plate or platter.

I found that the sage in the green icing on the Christmas trees made them taste realistically piney and the nutmeg/clove flavour in the gingerbread men produced a similar effect.

Step 7: Serve & Enjoy

Picture of Serve & Enjoy

They go great with tea, coffee or milk on Christmas morning or Eve and are easy to adapt to any theme. Simple butter and sugar bake pair well with almost any flavourings.

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