Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

"When lights and decorations go up along main streets across the country, rolling pins and cookie cutters of many shapes soon come to light in the kitchen. Then, more than at any other season, rolled cookies have top popularity. By the time Christmas arrives, cookie stars, hearts, crescents, jaunty gingerbread boys and animals dangle from the branches of twinkling Christmas trees."
~ Nell Nicholson, in Farm Journal's Homemade Cookies.

It's still true. For a good many people, the best Christmas cookies are the kind you cut out with holiday cutters and sprinkle with colored sugars and sprinkles before baking -- or, alternatively, bake first and then frost and add the trimmings. I have made plenty of cut-out cookies in my day -- by myself, with my own kids, and now with grandkids -- and thought I would share a few of my favorites here. There are other cut-out cookies here in the Christmas kitchen as well, and I will label them as such so they can easily be found.

Here's the first one:


1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift
together dry ingredients and add alternately with milk. If the dough is
sticky, add flour if necessary to make the dough easier to handle.

Roll dough 1/4-inch thick on a well-floured surface, and cut with cookie
cutters of your choice. Sprinkle with colored sugars or sprinkles.

Bake on ungreased baking sheets at 375° for 8 minutes. Remove to wire
racks to cool. Makes about 100 cookies.

This recipe came from a Farm Journal Christmas magazine from the early 1960s. It was supposed to be a very easy dough for children to roll and cut, and I remember helping to make these as a child. Later, I used this recipe for my own kids to make and decorate cut-out cookies when they were young.

This next recipe is a newer favorite of mine, although I suspect the recipe itself is quite old.


2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter flavor Crisco® (I use the sticks -- so, 1 stick for this recipe)
2 eggs
3 Tblsp. cold water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

Cream sugar and Crisco® until fluffy, using an electric mixer. Add the eggs, water, and vanilla and combine well. Sift the dry ingredients together. Work them into the sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or your hands, if necessary. When well blended, form the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap to chill for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, roll the dough very thin on a floured surface. Cut out shapes and decorate with colored sugars and sprinkles, pressing down lightly. Using a floured spatula, transfer the decorated cookies to a foil-or-parchment-covered cookie sheet. Re-roll the scraps to make more cookies. Repeat the cutting and sprinkling process.

Bake at 350º for 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove to cooling racks.

Yields a lot of cookies; I have never counted to determine how many, and the original recipe, which I found in Cook & Tell, didn't say.

And this last one is from my dear friend Marilyn's mother. Love the festive combination of flavors in this one!


1 cup shortening (may use half margarine)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. orange extract
2 unbeaten eggs
2 1/2 cups flour

Combine all but the flour and beat thoroughly. Add flour and mix well. Chill dough thoroughly.

Roll small portions of dough 1/4-inch thick and cut out. [Edited to add: decorate cookies before baking with sprinkles and colored sugars; or, bake the cookies plain and frost when cool.]

Bake for 8-10 minutes in 375º oven.

The yield is unspecified on this one, too. You really do get a lot of cookies from cut-out recipes, especially if you re-roll the scraps, a process that sometimes seems interminable. But I always do it.

Whichever recipe you choose, have fun. Happy Baking!

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