Holiday cookies are always delicious, but if you ask me, they taste just a little bit better when they look festive, too. That's why I bring totally decked-out cut out cookies to every cookie swap and holiday party.
I feel like cut outs get a bad reputation for being cute, but tasteless. Well dear reader, I am on a one-woman campaign to change that rep forever. Step one on the campaign: share my soft, sweet, perfect sugar cookie cut out recipe with the world!
I know I'm the cookie dough queen, but the dough for these cookies is NOT edible. They are made to enjoy baked, either right out of the oven, or completely cooled and decorated with royal icing (don't worry, I provided a recipe for the icing below!).
Once you make your fancy creations be sure to tag @cookiedonyc in the pictures. I might even share them on our feed. Happy decorating!
Holiday Cut Outs
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, corn starch, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes will do the trick. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla, mix until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.
Add half the flour mixture and stir on low just until the powdery texture of the flour disappears, about 15 seconds. Immediately add the rest of the flour mixture and stir until combined. Scrape the bowl and mix a final 15 seconds.
Divide the dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer. While dough chills, lay out a large sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper.
Drop one half of the chilled dough into the center of the wax paper and cover with another sheet of wax paper. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut with floured cookie cutters. Repeat with other half of dough.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Different sized cookies will bake differently. Keep your eyes on the edges once they look set and barely golden, they are ready to come out of the oven.
Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder
3/4 cup room temperature water + more for thinning
gel food coloring, if desired
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whip the confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and water on low until well combined. Increase speed to medium and mix for 7 to 10 minutes or until icing forms stiff, glossy peaks. Use additional water, a drop or two at a time, to thin the icing to desired consistency. I know mine is ready when it drizzles off the whisk in a thick ribbon and disappears back into the bowl.
For a single color, add food coloring (less is more!) to the mixing bowl and whip, or divide icing into several bowls and add color to each bowl for multiple colors.
Transfer icing to a piping bag with a decorating tip. Pipe a border around the edge of completely cooled cookie. Add lines of icing to the center of the cookie and use a toothpick to spread icing to fill cookie center. Allow icing to set at room temperature for 2 hours. Snap a pic for Instagram and enjoy!