The 12 Days of Holiday Cookies: Day Five

Ugly Sweater Sugar Cookies

A good sugar cookie recipe and a collection of cookie cutters can take you through any occasion. 

Snowflakes and mittens, flowers and ducks , baseballs and flags, autumn leaves and squirrels, Christmas trees and the Star of David.

Making and decorating sugar cookies can be a lengthy and messy process, especially if you do it with kids. 

I can do something about the lengthy and messy process business--a sugar cookie dough you can make, roll out without a mess in batches, and even freeze.

But you're on your own with the kids. Chaos is just part of the whole experience.

When I came across these Ugly Sweater Cookies from Cookie Jar Bakery in Lee's Summit, Missouri, I thought Perfect!

Photo from Cookie Jar Bakery

They also have a way with traditional shapes, as in these Christmas trees. Great idea for a new twist on a classic theme.

Photo from Cookie Jar Bakery
Cookie Jar Bakery has also done Pumpkin Pie Slice Cookies and Turkey Leg Cookies for Thanksgiving.

What I'm leading up to is adding a little humor to some of your holiday baking.

Look for a sweater cookie cutter and a squeeze bottle or two or three (for outlining and filling in cookie decoration with royal icing), make up batches of sugar cookie dough and royal icing, put some holiday music on, and bake something that will make someone smile. Or chuckle. Or snort. You know who you are.

Ugly Sweater Sugar Cookies
(The shape was inspired by Cookie Jar Bakery, but the recipe is mine.)

A standout sugar cookie starts with a dough that tastes good and performs well under adverse conditions (like a pack of preschoolers in a small kitchen). This one definitely does. The dough has a buttery, vanilla-scented flavor; is easy to roll out; and doesn’t spread during baking. The dough can also be frozen for up to three months, then can be rolled out, cut out, and baked into cookies. Once the dough is made, the process of cutting out the sugar cookies is a great opportunity for nostalgia and collecting. In our family, making holiday sugar cookies with the kids has always been fun—and messy.  For the best results, sift the flour first, then measure it. Rolling out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper keeps the mess to a minimum and results in more tender cookies without that extra flour. Paint the cookies with Cookie Paint (royal icing). You can find meringue powder at hobby, craft, and cake supply stores or online.
Makes 30 (3-inch) cookies
Classic Sugar Cookie Dough:
3 cups (285 g) sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla, almond, or lemon extract
Cookie Paint:
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 cup (50 ml) cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla, almond, lemon, or raspberry extract
2 cups (240 g) confectioners’ sugar
Food coloring
For the Classic Sugar Cookie Dough, sift (again) the flour with the baking powder and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and extract. Beat in the dry ingredients, a third at a time, until the dough just comes together. Gather the dough into a ball and knead for 1 minute. Cut it in half and form each half into a flattened disc. Use right away or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Let the dough come to room temperature before rolling out.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Have ready two large (11 by 17 inches) sheets of parchment paper or two silicon baking mats. Place one on a flat surface. Place one disc of dough in the center and cover with the second piece of parchment or silicon baking mat. Roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out the cookie shapes and place close to each other on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
Bake the cookies until the edges are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

For the Cookie Paint, whisk the meringue powder, water, extract, and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium bowl until smooth and of a paint-like consistency. If you like, divide the paint among separate bowls and tint each bowl a different color. Using a clean, large watercolor, paint, or pastry brush (or a squeeze bottle) paint the cookies and leave to dry for at least 1 hour. Serve right away or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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