Christmas baking is here! This recipe for Cut Sugar Cookies is, without a shadow of doubt, the best ever. Cream cheese provides them with a moist and soft and melt-in-your-mouth texture; vanilla and lemon zest give them a light, fresh flavor; the dough freezes well, so you can always have them on hand; they make wonderful gifts and your friends and family will be begging for more. Oh, sure…they take a bit of time. But aren’t they worth it?
Searching for the perfect cookie to ship for the FBLCookieExchange, I came upon these beauties from kitchn. I have altered their recipe only slightly. First, I increased their small recipe by half. Secondly, I flavored mine with just vanilla and lemon zest (which I increased). They also used almond extract, which I eliminated. Since so many people, children especially, have nut allergies, and since I was mailing these cookies to people I didn’t know (or know if there were allergies in their homes), I played it safe.
That said, I adored the subtle vanilla and lemon zest flavoring. I didn’t think they suffered from the omission of the almond extract. In fact, these really are the best sugar cookies. I mean it. Ever. They are so soft and buttery, subtly sweet, and with a melt in your mouth texture.
These cookies take time. Are they worth it? Yes! Here are my tips: You must refrigerate the dough. The butter and the cream cheese need to harden so you can easily cut the dough. Second, once you have rolled the dough between parchment and chilled it, when you’re ready to cut the cookies, be sure to peel the parchment from both sides of the dough. It will make cutting the shapes and removing them to the prepared baking sheets much easier.
As I said, the cookies I did were part of a cookie exchange, so I sent these cookies out to three fellow bloggers. I also received three batches of cookies. Check out the photos of the incredible cookies that came my way, below. Also below is the link to the roundup of all of the recipes in the exchange.
Time to get baking for the holidays! Cookies always make excellent gifts!
p.s.: This was my first foray into the world of Royal Icing. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I don’t make a living decorating cakes or cookies. I think I’m going to tackle more Royal Icing projects because I want to figure out how to make masterpieces! These were definitely delicious, but not gorgeous. *wink*
- 1½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
- 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), add the butter, cream cheese and sugar.
- Beat on high speed for several minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat to combine.
- In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine.
- Gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.
- NOTE: Before baking, this dough needs to be chilled.
- If you are planning to bake right away, divide the dough into 3 balls and between two pieces of parchment paper, roll each ball out to ¼ to ⅛-inch thickness.
- Place the dough between the parchment sheet onto a baking sheet and into the refrigerator for an hour. *
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment or a silicone baking sheet.
- Remove the chilled dough sheets from the refrigerator, one at a time, and peel the parchment paper away from the rolled dough.
- Cut cookies out of the rolled dough and place on the prepared baking sheets.**
- Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack.
- Cool completely before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.
- 2 cups - Confectioners' sugar
- 1½ tablespoons - meringue powder
- 3 tablespoons - warm water
- (Gel food coloring if you plan to color your icing)
- In a bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat confectioners' sugar, meringue powder and warm water until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.
- If icing is too thick, add a couple drops of water.
- If icing is too thin, add additional confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until desired consistency.
Links to all the recipes shared in the #FBLCookieExchange can be found here.
These are the cookies I received:
Cranberry and Crystalized Ginger Biscotti from Turnips 2 Tangerines. Mr. Saucy loved these! I had to let him have them all, since I’m allergic to ginger, but they smelled fabulous! Thank you, Lynn!
Pistachio Dried Cherry Chocolate Chunk Biscotti from Mother Would Know. Chocolate and Cranberries? What’s not to love? Perfect with a cup of tea; they were delicious, Laura. Thank you!
Cranberry Orange Cookies with White Chocolate and Pistachios from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen. These were soft and moist and really delicious; I had to fight Mr. Saucy off of them to have enough to take a photo for you to see. They were wonderful. Thank you, Megan!