Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Cookies - Soft Cut Out Cookies

It's that time of the year when all cooks (good and otherwise) start to think about baking Christmas cookies. Some of us stick to a tried and true list that we know will be a hit with our family and friends. Those of us that are a bit more adventurous will try new recipes and some will even invent new cookie creations. I'm currently in exploratory mode. I usually bake a few favorites from years past, and then try to add in a couple new recipes. Lately I've been looking at fellow bloggers that love to bake. Check out Risa's "Baked Perfection" blog. I'm sure I'm going to give a couple of her recipes a try. As Kevin loves oatmeal raisin cookies, I'm eying her White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie recipe. I also think her Cookie Dough Truffles sound lovely.

My mother always made a cookie called Sour Cream Drops, which is a soft cookie with nuts and frosted with butter cream. I make this cookie most every year. And of course, there is the perennial favorite Oatmeal Scotchies (note Risa's recipe above can be split to make both the White Chocolate Chip Cranberry and the Scotchies cookies) that are easy to make and always popular. Do I make a few Christmas cut outs to decorate plates and to top off cookie gift boxes? They certainly do make for a festive presentation and taste good too (again, I use my mother's sour cream cut out recipe that ensures a good tasting soft cooking). So many decisions! And with a cookie exchange just around the corner, I'm headed to the kitchen! Let me know if you have suggestions!

Today I'm updating this post from 2009 as a reader indicated she couldn't find my recipe for the cut outs shown above.  These will be soft and delicious and good year around for cut out cookies in any shape.  I sometimes just make them as rounds with a little white sugar sprinkled on top.  Always popular!

Read through the entire recipe below as I give you several make ahead and timing tips.  During the busy holiday season being organized is important and with this recipe you may wish to do make the cookies in several phases, as you have the time.

Cut-Out Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Cookie Dough: (Approx. 5 dozen)
6 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting: (Yields 1 cup)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons canned evaporated milk
food coloring and decorative sprinkles (optional)

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside. In the large bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream the sour cream and butter together at low speed. With the mixer running add sugar, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during mixing. With the mixer on low spoon in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Dough will be sticky. Divide dough into two flat discs and wrap with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled, two hours or up to three days in advance.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon pads. If you have two more, prepare those as well as the cookie sheets should be cool for subsequent batches and you can rotate usage. Generously flour your work surface to prevent dough from sticking. Rub flour on the rolling pin. Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator place it on the floured surface.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour. Starting at the center, roll the dough out to one edge; repeating until dough is an even 1/4" thick all over, sprinkling with additional flour, if needed, to avoid sticking. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out shapes beginning at the out edge and working toward the center for maximum dough usage. Transfer dough shapes to baking sheets. If you plan to frost them, they are ready for baking.  If you want sugar topped cookies, sprinkle them now with sugar, ideally sanding or any course sugar.

Press left over dough together and continue rolling and cutting shape until the sheets are full. Remember you have a second dough disc in the refrigerator.  Bake 2 sheets at a time for 8-10 minutes.  Even with a convection oven that has even heating I still rotate and switch pans half way through baking time. Bake them just until they just spring back to the touch but haven't started browning on the bottom. Transfer hot cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. If you don't have time to frost today, cooled cookies may be stacked in a plastic airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter briefly and add and mix in the vanilla and half of the evaporated milk, scraping down the bowl as needed. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the mixture is a thick smooth paste consistency. Gradually mix in the remaining milk and continue mixing on medium speed until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Add more milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time if it is too thick until you reach the desired consistency. If using food coloring, separate into smaller bowl and stir in colors as desired.

Frost cookies and decorate with sprinkles while frosting is wet. Leave out to dry for several hours until dry to touch before storing in an airtight container. If stacking frosted cookies, put waxed or parchment paper between layers.

No comments:

Post a Comment