Sugar cookies are one of the first recipes that come to mind when compiling holiday menus. The reason is they are easy to make, delicious, soft, flavorful, perfect for shaping into festive symbols, and ideal for decorating. No wonder these cuties are loved by kids and grown-ups alike.
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From a cook’s/thrifty housewife’s perspective, sugar cookies have a few more important upsides:
- the dough can be easily doubled without affecting the final result
- the cookies can be made crispier by prolonging the baking time just a bit to satisfy all tastes in the family;
- baked sugar cookies freeze well.
From a mom’s perspective, these cookies are great for including the kids who are enthusiastic to help in the kitchen.
We’ve got some amazing sugar cookies recipes to make last minute holiday preparations easier for you. But before we get to them, let’s go through some essential tips and tricks that will facilitate the process even more.
- Don’t be afraid to add more butter than the recipe calls for to make the cookies incredibly soft. If you have run out of butter, cream cheese will do the trick;
- To chill or not to chill? You can skip the chilling only if the recipe explicitly specifies that or if you don’t really care if the sugar cookie shapes look ok. Chilling makes the dough easy to work with and helps the cookies keep their shape during baking.
The Best Sugar cookies recipes to Make During the Holidays
Whole-wheat ﬂour adds a slightly nutty ﬂavor and wholesome texture to this traditional sugar cookies recipe. To add a nutty crunch, stir 1/4 cup chopped pecans or almonds into the cookie dough.
The simplest cookies are often the best! These heavenly bites of brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and nuts just melt in your mouth. The nuts need to be ﬁnely chopped for this recipe – ﬁner than are typically found in chopped nut packages in the market. You can chop them further in a food processor—just be careful to process in short bursts until they’re finely chopped—not ground into a paste.
Decorated sugar cookies don’t always have to be rolled and cut out; this simple drop recipe yields quick—yet still delicious—results. Make your own colored sugar to match any theme. Just place a few tbsp. granulated sugar in a container with a tight-fitting lid, add a drop or two of food coloring and shake until the color is evenly distributed.
Prepare the sprinkles and food coloring! These simple treats are perfect for the holidays but also to add color to any regular rainy day. Children will love helping to cut out and decorate their own special cookies but also devour them afterward.
These generously-sized sugar cookies have rich macadamia nuts in every bite. So simple to make—just mix, scoop and bake! Put your taste buds on cloud nine by adding white chocolate to these already heavenly cookies. Just substitute ½ cup coarsely chopped white baking chocolate or white chocolate chips for half of the macadamia nuts.
Decorating Sugar Cookies
When it comes to decorating, it all comes down to skills and patience but you can hardly go wrong with sugar cookies. These cookies are great with a simple buttercream frosting or chocolate ganache spread on top, or between two cookies. If you are skillful enough, you can glaze each cookie with a thin layer of icing, mix colors, and draw. The best tools to pull this off are squeeze bottles and piping bags.
For a super-quick decoration, fill a small plastic bag half full with melted semisweet chocolate chips. Make a small diagonal cut in the bottom corner of the bag and squeeze out the chocolate into various designs and patterns onto the cooled cookies.
If you decide to go with classic royal icing, here is a step-by-step instruction:
To make it easier on yourself, choose a recipe that calls for only the basic ingredients
3-4 cups Powdered Sugar
2 Egg whites
- Start by beating the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy.
- Then, gradually add the powdered sugar (3-4 cups).
Extra flavor can be added with vanilla extract (2 tsp.), which is a common choice. Other options include almond extract or lemon juice. If using extracts, make sure they are colorless to keep the icing white.
Once the icing is smooth and thick enough, place it in a zip-lock bag for storing or use immediately.
For the buttercream frosting fans, we chose a chocolate-flavored buttercream because why not? ‘Tis the season to go wild with food!
- 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The best type of chocolate chips to use for buttercream isn’t regular milk chocolate we all like to devour, but semisweet or bittersweet. When mixed with the other ingredients, these types of chocolate will lighten up not just in color but also in taste, keeping the rich chocolate flavor at the same time.
The quality of the chocolate you use is also of great importance. High-quality chocolate chips tend to melt well and produce a smooth, even & velvety final result. Make sure the melted chocolate chips are cooled before adding them to the buttercream mixture.
Whip the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on a medium speed until light and fluffy, (for about 3 minutes). Add the powdered sugar and keep mixing until the mixture is homogenous and creamy. Then, add the vanilla followed by the cooled melted chocolate and whip the frosting on medium speed fluffy and creamy, for about 4 minutes.
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Note: If refrigerating this buttercream, let it achieve room temperature before whipping it with an electric mixer about a minute or so.
Note 2: If the butter you use is unsalted, add just a pinch of salt with the powdered sugar.
Happy New Year!
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