These cookies are an essential part of my annual Christmas baking. I make all sorts of cookies ahead of time and then freeze, to have a lot of choices for Christmas cookie sharing. Nevertheless, these cutout cookies are a constant because they are easy to make, the dough can be made ahead of time, and you can decorate them in a myriad of ways. Find my Christmas Cookie Recipe Book on iBooks: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1438553720
Or on Kindle:
Step 1: Step 1: Gather Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup softened butter (take out butter ahead of time, cut up into small pieces and let stand until soft) (melted butter will not work!)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. milk
Step 2: Step 2: Making the Cookie Dough
-Mix together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
-In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar (if it is lumpy that's ok). Beat in egg, vanilla extract, and milk, until smooth.
-Add in the dry flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon then with your hands. Add in the additional 1/2 cup flour and mix in until dough is smooth.
-Form into a disc (I forgot to do this) and wrap with plastic wrap.
-Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 2 days.
Step 3: Step 3: Shaping and Baking the Cookies
-Preheat oven to 375 F.
-Roll out on a slightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.
-Cut out cookies, using Christmas cookie cutters. Place on a parchment lined and greased baking sheet.
-Bake for 7-9 minutes.
-Cool completely before decorating.
-I freeze my undecorated cookies for Christmas cookie gifts and decorate them before packaging. Use airtight container for storage and and freezing.
Step 4: Step 4: the Tried-and True Icing Recipe
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups icing sugar
Beat egg white and cream of tartar together until peaks form. Mix in icing sugar. Add several drops of water if necessary. Tint using food coloring. Use immediately, and cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to keep icing from hardening. This icing is best for decorations you want to harden. Makes about one cup.
Use icing bags with different tips to decorate the cooled cookies.