Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Cut Out Cookies

I always make these cookies for Halloween and for Christmas. As I have not done my holiday baking just yet, I only have the photo from Halloween. This recipe is from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, using and electric mixer on medium-low speed, then continue to beat until the mixture is crumbly and slightly wet. Beat in the cream cheese and the vanilla until the dough just comes begins to form large clumps.
  2. Knead the dough in the large bowl by hand a few times until it forms a large, cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide it in half, and pat into two 4-inch disks. Wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes. (FYI: you can make you dough ahead and keep it in the frig for 3 days or you can freeze it for up to 2 weeks--if you freeze it allow the dough to defrost in the frig)
  3. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 375°. Line the bottom of two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness on a clean surface. I have granite counter tops, but if you do not have a good smooth cool surface you might want to invest in a roll mat. Use cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes. Press the cookie cutters into the dough and remove the excess dough from around the cutters before removing the cutters. Then, using a spatula move the cut out cookies from the counter to your parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Place each cookie 1-inch apart.
  4. Bake the cookies until a light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet half way through the baking time.
  5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes and then transfer them using a spatula to a wire rack. Cool cookies completely before icing them.

3 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoons cream cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

  1. Whisk 2 tablespoons of the milk and the cream cheese together until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth, adding the remaining milk as needed until the glaze is thin enough to spread easily. You can divide the glaze amoung separate bowls and add food coloring as desired. I use Wilton gel food color for dying cookie icing.
  2. Decorate the cookies with the glaze and with sprinkles. Allow the glazed cookies to dry completely before touching them or they will be covered with finger prints

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