Saturday, January 2, 2016

Perfect Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs with Whipped Buttercream Icing

There are 12 days of Christmas, right? And on the 7th day of our Christmas, the kids finally decorated sugar cookies. I love all the baking and cookie-making that is traditionally synonymous with Christmas preparations, but for some reason decorating sugar cookies is something I actually dread. The kids are usually super messy with it and there is a lot of preparation and clean-up behind the whole process. On top of that, both Paul and I really hate sugar cookies. Paul finds them kind of boring and I would much rather be eating something with chocolate.

So, we kind of dragged our feet when it came to decorating the cookies this year. Matthew and Emma begged us on a daily basis "Can we decorate cookies?" We kept putting it off in favor of other tasks we needed to complete. Plus, Matthew usually asked to decorate cookies after dinner as we were getting everyone bathed and ready for bed. Perfect timing, kid.

In the end, we just ran out of time before Christmas day, but who says you can't do a fun activity like this during the other 12 days of Christmas?

The kids were thrilled when we finally got around to it! I ended up baking all the sugar cookies the night before while Paul took a very cranky Lucy for a late-night drive in the car in a vain attempt to get her to sleep. I tried this recipe on a whim because it did not require softened butter and there was no chilling period for the dough. To my absolute surprise, this was by far the best recipe I have tried yet for cut-outs. The dough was a dream to work with, the cookies turned out nice and sturdy, and the taste was crisp, buttery, and reminiscent of a really good animal cracker.

The next day, we made a whipped buttercream icing to decorate with and I tried dipping a piece of one of the cookies in the icing (for quality control, of course) and was blown away by the flavor. Who would have thought that I would end up loving the frosted sugar cookies this year?

I made sure to decorate a few simply with the icing and sprinkles and set them aside for Paul and I to enjoy. Then, I just sat back and watched the kids do their thing. After watching them, I'm really glad I iced a couple of cookies quickly before they really got busy. They kept licking the frosting spoons and sticking their sticky, goobery hands in all the decorations. Needless to say, these cookies will not be gifted or shared. They had a blast making them and it was fun to see them have such a great time.

Matthew was especially proud of his "Frosty" and "Mr. Grinch" cookie. Emma made a "Mr. Cedric" cookie. If you have no idea who Mr. Cedric is, he's the villain from Sofia the First. If that still does not clear it up, don't worry about it. The finished Cedric cookie looked nothing like him anyway. And Matthew's "Grinch" cookie was the cut-out of a stocking that he covered in green icing followed by a handful of jelly beans. Not really sure why that makes it the Grinch but I that's probably just because I don't have their imaginations.

Guess Who Else Loved The Cookies?

I want to save both of these recipes for next year because, like I said, this was the best-tasting, easiest-to-work-with, sugar-cookie-cutouts I have ever made! I might just go eat one now.

Perfect Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs
adapted slightly from Bake at 350

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 c sugar
2 sticks butter, cold & cut into chunks
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shapes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Whipped Buttercream Icing
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Generous pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons whipping cream

Beat the butter until creamy in the bowl of a stand mixer. Carefully add the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the cream gradually, as much or as little as you want depending on how thin you want the frosting. Beat the heck out of it. Done!

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a big fan of cutouts either. I don't think I've eaten a single one all season but they are Matt's favorites and I like the tradition of frosting them together. Will have to try these recipes next year. Maybe then I'll like them too??