One of my favorite holiday traditions is cookie baking. I believe I talked about it a little last year – my friend Laura and I used to spend days making insane amounts of cookies, like thousands of cookies, and while I’ve calmed down since then, I still enjoy a good end of the year bake-a-thon.
I really do love to bake. I don’t do it very often, since a) cookies are bad for you and b) by the time I’m done preparing them, the combination of smelling the dough/tasting the dough means my cookie cravings are satisfied, and I don’t actually want to eat very many of them. I’m weird, I know. But at Christmas, I think cookies are a perfect little gift, and since I’m crazy, I like to have as many different options as I can, because I think nothing is more fun than having lots of choices, particularly cookie-related choices.
This year, my mom and I spent the past two afternoons baking, and we not only turned out what I think is an usually good season of cookies. I thought it would be fun to share our recipes on my blog. They aren’t very groundbreaking, or unusual, but I would argue that they are the best cookie recipes you can find. Many recipes have been tested over the years, but these are the ones that endure, the ones that our neighbors and friends request.
The velvety sugar cookie is the embodiment of a perfect sugar cookie. I know people have different tastes and all that jazz, but seriously. This is the recipe you have been looking for. It can be either thick and chewy or slightly crispy, depending on how you roll out the dough. My mom insists that they’re only good if it’s a half inch thick (this year, she interrupted herself mid-sentence to shriek “not too thin!” across the kitchen at me, as I rolled out dough. )
Here’s why they are so perfect: they have cream cheese in them. It gives them a really unique flavor, and keeps them super moist. They only become great when you frost them, and you have to use buttercream icing. Usually we make giant, almost plate size cookies, but this year I found some tiny cookie cutters, and insisted we use those instead. I think they turned out adorable.
Velvety Christmas Cookies
1 pound butter
1 8 oz block of cream cheese
2 cups white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
Cream butter and cheese. Add sugar and egg yolks. Add vanilla and flour. Chill one our or overnight. Roll out (but not too thin!) and cut with cookie cutters. Dough is fragile – minimize handling. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350˚ on greased cookie sheet. Do not over bake – cookies are done if any brown appears.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk
In a bowl mix butter, salt, vanilla and about 1/3 of the sugar. Add milk and remaining sugar alternately; mix until smooth and creamy. (I like to beat it on high until it’s nice and fluffy). Add more sugar to thicken or milk to thin frosting if needed for good spreading consistency.