Straightforward and simple sugar cookies are, nevertheless, delicious. Cut out snowy stars, decorate red and white Santas, or use a simple round cutter and decorate them like Christmas tree ornaments. You can even cut and decorate them to look like Christmas cards and insert into a gift basket.
This recipe comes from the files of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and will make good sugar cookies for cutting and icing. The trick is to not overbake the cookies so that they will stay a little moist and tender. This is a big recipe — it makes about 8 dozen cookies. But it can be safely cut in half.
Snowy Sugar Cookies
5 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl. In the large bowl of a mixer or by hand (the mixer will make them lighter), blend together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add extracts. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions, adding the egg white last.
Now, add flour to butter mixture, doing so as gently as possible, slowly, until just mixed but well incorporated.
For cut-out cookies, chill the dough in the refrigerator for an hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch or thicker, depending on your taste. Place cookies at least 1-inch apart on nonstick or lightly greased cookie sheets and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until just slightly browned on top.
To make a more mounded style of cookie, roll teaspoons of dough in your hands and bake on a nonstick or lightly greased surface.
Powdered Sugar Icing
This flavorful, smooth, slightly translucent, shiny glaze is great for decorating sugar cookies or drizzling over other desserts. You might need to make another recipe of this icing if you want to ice all of the cookies above.
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Food color, if desired
Combine powdered sugar, water, butter, corn syrup and vanilla or almond extract in small mixer bowl; mix until powdered sugar is moistened. Beat at medium speed until smooth, adding additional water if necessary, drop by drop, to reach desired glazing consistency. Tint with food color, if desired.