Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fancy Cookies: Decorated Cut-Outs

During the holiday season I make several varieties of cookies to share with friends, family and co-workers. I love having a ready made dessert/gift in the freezer and while I add a few new kinds each year, most are old standbys. My goal is 10-12 varieties in the freezer by the first week of December. Sometimes I even make it.

An annual favorite, decorated cut-outs provide a colorful addition to the cookie plate. The base is a soft, tender sugar cookie but the real star is the frosting. I use a traditional piping icing, but feel free to substitute a flooding or buttercream icing. This makes about 5 dozen, depending on the thickness of the dough and size of the cookie cutters. While the pictures feature Christmas cookies, I use the same recipe for cookies celebrating Valentine's Day, Halloween, birthdays and other celebrations.

After the dough is mixed, wrap tightly and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface. I roll a quarter at a time.

Roll to 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters.

After baking, cool completely before icing.

While cookies cool, make icing and tint with desired colors. I frost by
spreading the icing with a knife and using a piping bag. 

Cut-Out Cookies
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
4 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, eggs and salt incorporating well. Mix in baking powder and flour. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Dust surface with flour and roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Cool and frost.

Piping Icing
2 cups shortening
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract (optional)
8 cups powdered sugar
8 Tbsp milk

Beat shortening and extracts. Add half of powdered sugar and 4 Tbsp milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar and milk. This icing is stiffer than traditional icing to facilitate piping.