Deck Out Your Cookies!

In our busy lives today we try to fit so many things into each day; tending family, keeping a home, working. It is no wonder Time has become another factor to consider in our lives. So where do we start to have fun with the holidays, use our time well and not be expensive?

I always seem to start in my kitchen. Simple baked items can be very decorative and lots of fun!  I have always depended on a basic Sugar Cookie Dough – it can be easily made at home or affordably purchased ready-made at the market.  Turn a group of youngsters (or just the young at heart) loose with sprinkles and frosting and you are bound to get some fun results.

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Gradually combine the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Mix until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.

This versatile medium can be turned into all kinds of yummy holiday fun. Here are some ideas:

Basic Cutout Cookies
1 batch Sugar Cookie Dough, recipe above

Divide the dough into workable sized balls.  Work with one ball of dough at a time – return rest of dough to refrigerator.

Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4-1/2″ thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Any excess dough can be re-rolled, refrigerated, and cut.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are a light golden, 10 – 15 minutes. (Note:  If making cookies into ornaments, place a small hole with a toothpick or like item inside edge of cookie for hanging ribbon while cookie is still hot.)

Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

For decorating: Whisk confectioners’ sugar with just enough milk to make a thick icing. Transfer icing to a small plastic bag. Press the icing into a corner of the bag and snip off the corner with scissors to make a small opening. Gently press the icing onto the cookie to make a simple pattern. Decorate as desired. Set aside for about 1 hour to let the icing harden.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

With a little imagination, the cookies can be hung up for decorations or given as gifts – Either way they are fun and taste great, too!

Candy Cane Cookies
1 batch Sugar Cookie Dough, recipe above
Red food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 325°.

Separate dough into 2 equal portions and place in 2 different bowls. Add red food coloring gradually to 1 bowl of dough, kneading together until desired shade of red is created. To second bowl of uncolored dough, add peppermint extract and knead together. On a floured work surface, shape each dough into balls and then roll each ball into 1/4-inch-wide ropes, each about 6 inches long. For each cookie, carefully twist some of the red and white ropes of dough together and shape into a candy cane. Spread candy canes out on cookie sheets and bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool before serving. (Note:  If making cookies into ornaments, place a small hole with a toothpick or like item inside edge of cookie for hanging ribbon while cookie is still hot.)

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
1 batch Sugar Cookie Dough, recipe above
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

Divide the dough in half and add chocolate and vanilla to 1 half (mix with your hands). Add egg yolk, peppermint extract, and crushed candy to other half of dough and mix with hands. Cover both with plastic wrap and chill for about 5 minutes. Roll out each dough separately to approximately 1/4″ thickness. Place peppermint dough on top of chocolate and press together around the edges. Using waxed paper or flexible cutting board underneath, roll dough into a log. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2″ slices. Place cookies 1″ apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or baking mat and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. (Note:  If making cookies into ornaments, place a small hole with a toothpick or like item inside edge of cookie for hanging ribbon while cookie is still hot.)

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.