The only thing better than baking and decorating Christmas sugar cookies is doing it with your best friend who has come to visit from across the country. I tried to kidnap her and make her stay forever, using these delicious, soft, almondy cookies as bait (it didn’t work).
When I was about 8, the movie Little Rascals basically ran on repeat at our house. Along with (what I consider to be) other 90’s classics like The Mighty Ducks, Home Alone, 3 Ninjas, Heavyweights and Cool Runnings (as well as any and all movies, television shows, commercials, and Teen Beat Magazine articles featuring J.T.T., my one true love), this movie was the source of much of the wisdom I have carried into my adulthood. Thanks to these childhood staples, I now know how to craft booby traps to punish evil grown ups, shoot a knucklepuck, hide treats in my mattress and transform old pieces of garbage and plywood into a high-speed go-kart. When my husband doesn’t reply to my texts, he knows that the message, “SANCA?” is my way of indicating that if he doesn’t respond soon, I will assume that he is dead.
One of my favourite quotes from Little Rascals is delivered by the wise-beyond-his-years character, Stymie. He says, “All I know is, you only find a once in a lifetime buddy once in a lifetime”.
Oh, Stymie. You are so so right about this. Unfortunately, Stymie never said what to do when your once in a lifetime buddy decides to pursue her dream of getting her PhD and move to the other side of the country, so I have had to figure out what to do with this all on my own. Luckily, though, at least once a year, my best friend comes home for a visit. When she comes, my husband, baby and I are spoiled rotten. Beckett gets presents, snuggles, and all-day play dates. I get my dying succulents replanted, Project Runway marathons and dinner and wine waiting for me when I get home from work. Stu (and I) get Beckett looked after on early weekend mornings so that we can sleep in and Stu gets to go work on his motorcycles because I have a friend to play with so he doesn’t have to.
I also get to pick someone’s brain about the world of blogging and all of its subtleties and acronyms I had never even heard of two months ago, like SEO and LOL and OMG (just kidding on the last two). And sometimes, like in today’s post, we get to work on a blog together! My best friend, Laine, runs the deliciously awesome blog, Guliash Girl, which you definitely need to go check out. Together, we took a million pictures as we mixed, rolled, and cut out dough, and then completely forgot to take pictures of us icing these absolutely amazing sugar cookies. I love this recipe because you can use the dough right away – no chilling required! We had to tweak the recipe a little bit, but the cookies are delicious and, in my humble opinion, look pretty darn cute.
We doubled the recipe so we would have lots to share! We (and by we I mean Laine) also made a little recipe video as well! Check it out:
The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe (we found it here)
This dough is easy to work with, doesn’t need to be chilled, and cuts the perfect shapes, every time!
- 1 Cup unsalted butter
- 1 Cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In the bowl of your mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth, at least 3 minutes
- Beat in extracts and egg.
- In a separate bowl combine baking powder with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer turn out the dough onto a countertop surface. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand. (We found that this worked best when we separated the dough into tennis ball sized balls – it was way easier to work with. We also had to add a little bit of water to moisten the dough).
- DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH. Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut. You want these cookies to be on the thicker side (closer to 1/4 inch rather than 1/8).
- Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.
- If you must chill the dough just leave it on the counter top for 10 minutes before rolling or work the dough with your hands for a few minutes.
- You can omit the almond extract if you do not have it available, however the taste is really fantastic with the hint of almond.
- Keep in mind that the recipe yield will vary according to how thick you roll your cookies and how large or small your cutters are.
- Bake for 6 minutes to test. They should be soft – DO NOT LET THEM BROWN! You can always test one to make sure they’re cooked, like I did 😉 . Leave them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cool completely. If you reach 7-8 minutes and the edges turn brown your cookie will be crisper.
The Perfect Fancy Icing Recipe (we found it here)
Makes enough for about 48 cookies
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- ¼-½ cup whole milk (we needed 1/2 cup)
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons almond extract (add the almond extract to taste – we found that the almond taste was too strong for us when we used the full 2 tsp)
- gel food colouring (in desired colours) (we used regular food colouring for all the colours except red. Gel seems to be the only way to actually get a nice red colour instead of pink!)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using an electric mixer) combine sugar and ¼ cup milk. Mix until smooth. Add milk as need to create a smooth mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Add corn syrup and almond extract.
- To decorate cookies, your outline icing should be the consistency of toothpaste, your flood icing should be the consistency of corn syrup.
- Add food colouring one drop at a time until desired colour is reached. Pour into bottles, decorator bags or a cup. We used Ziplock bags with cake icing tips, but found that we had to use the freezer bags or double the bags so that the tips wouldn’t keep popping off. Keep unused icing sealed until ready to use – if you don’t, it will start to crust and will clog up your decorating tips. We used a pin to help get things unclogged.
- The icing will dry hard. We put them in the fridge when we were done and then put waxed paper between the layers to keep them from sticking. You may want to wait up until over night.
- This icing will keep for several weeks on the countertop, in a sealed container. I actually keep mine much longer than that.