Monday, December 26, 2011

Baking Christmas Cookies

Christmas is just about over. C and I have one more Christmas celebration to attend tomorrow evening and then we can finally relax a little. After spending the whole weekend with my family and then all day today with his, we're beat. Sorry for my poor posts the past few days. I had good intentions. I had plans to write about Christmas traditions around the world. To write about our "slow cooked Sunday" Christmas dinner. But then we had my nephew at the house. And my grandparents. And my sister and BIL. And of course my parents. And that just makes for a crazy house and little time for blogging.

After spending a few hours Saturday morning with a dear friend, chatting over coffee and tea, I spent the rest of the day with my mom in the kitchen. Most of my afternoon involved me making chocolate dipped pretzels. Sadly, after spending a few hours on these, we put them in a tin and I completely forgot about them and didn't eat any! I'm sure they were good.

My mom made the dough for cutout sugar cookies on Saturday and refrigerated it all night. (this wasn't the original intention. We just ran out of time that evening to finish making the cookies) Christmas morning the dough was so hard she couldn't even get it out of the bowl! Her remedy was to put the bowl in some hot water. It seemed to work well so I'm passing the trick along to you.

The recipe she used was new to both of us. While cutout sugar cookies are a common Christmas cookie for most people, I didn't grow up making them. My mom and I agree that they can be tricky to make, and we haven't found a recipe we love yet, so it's not just something we made very often. This recipe turned out pretty good. The dough seemed to be a good consistency for rolling and cutting into shapes, and the cookies were nice and soft out of the oven. I would have preferred them a little sweeter, but adding icing did help quite a bit. Do you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe?

*Note, the recipe says it yields 4 dozen, but we didn't make nearly that many so I'm not sure if my mom halved the recipe or if we just have larger cookie cutters than normal?

Soft Christmas Cookies

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients until fully absorbed. Cover dough, and chill for 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. On a clean floured surface, roll out small portions of chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are barely brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Note that we made some on a cookie sheet which took only 6 minutes. We made others on baking stones lined with parchment paper and those took closer to 10 minutes before they were ready.

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