The Christmas season would not be the same without these cookies! I’ve been making them since my kids were little and it’s always a fun project to look forward to. One year, as a new teacher, (my OG kids!) I made this recipe and baked trays and trays of these holiday, winter-themed cookies. We drank hot chocolate, listened to holiday music and decorated cookies and I just knew it was something I’d love doing with my own kids one day.
Over the years I’ve perfected the easiest way to make this project FUN, and not just a big, floury, sugary, food dye mess. If you’re able to plan ahead a bit, think about your cookie project in steps, on different days, if possible.
Step 1: Make the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate both disks or put one in a ziplock bag and freeze to use at a later date. I’ve had good results using this frozen dough to make Valentine hearts 6-8 weeks later! Pull the frozen dough from the freezer about an hour before you want to use it.
Step 2: Roll out dough and cut out into desired shapes. Bake and cool. These can now be stored for a day before you want to frost them.
Step 3: Make frosting and decorate. For maximum freshness, give these away the day you frost them. They can be enjoyed for days if kept in an airtight container.
These cookies are the perfect accent to a cookie gift box. The beautiful bold colors come from gel food coloring, one I prefer to liquid. Crushed candy canes, sprinkles and colored sugars all make fun accents. If working with kiddos – a plastic table cover, disposable knives and bowls and even rimmed baking sheets to decorate in help contain the
mess, I mean fun!
Cheers and happy baking!
Sugar Cookie Cut Outs
This recipe comes from my family cookbook growing up and it's been a family tradition in my own home since my kids were little. The recipe makes two disks of dough, so if you're planning cookie plates to give away, make and bake the entire recipe. Alternatively, plan to freeze one of the disks of dough for a fun project at a later date – snowflakes in January or hearts in February.
- 3 ¾ cups flour
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ⅔ cups butter room temperature
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp almond extract can use vanilla
- 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 3 tbsp butter room temperature
- ¼-½ tsp almond extract can use vanilla
- 1 tbsp milk
- pinch of kosher salt
- food coloring
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add milk and almond extract and mix until combined.
With the mixer on low, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Shape dough into two disks and wrap each in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until easy to handle.
To make cookies:
Preheat oven to 400°
Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
On floured surface, roll one of the disks till ⅛” to ¼” thick. Keep extra dough in the refrigerator until ready to use.
With floured cookie cutters, cut into various shapes. Gather scraps and re-roll dough to cut out more cookies.
Place them on cookie sheets, ½” apart.
Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until very lightly browned.
Move cookies to baking rack and cool completely before frosting.
Combine confectioners' sugar, butter, extract and milk, beating until creamy.
If necessary, add a few more drops of milk to reach desired spreading consistency.
Divide frosting into as many bowls as you want colors. Mix in food coloring as desired.
Spread frosting over cooled cookies and add any additional sprinkles or decorations when frosting is still wet.