Prep 1 hr 30 mins
Cook 20 mins
This sensational sugar cookie is one that I found in "Taste of Home". The combination of extracts and the addition of cream cheese make them the tastiest and tenderest of treats! I was always a "cookie klutz" when it came to cut-out cookies, but with a few chef tricks up my sleeve and a darn good recipe, I made some cookies last Christmas that looked and tasted as if they came from the bakery. The frosting is from my Good Housekeeping cookbook. The recipe may seem long but that's because I've added some notes along the way. They're really very easy to make! I'll definitely be baking them again this season, so Santa won't be skipping my house-naughty or not!
- 1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
- 1 (3 ounce) package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 (16 ounce) package confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1⁄3 cup warm water
- assorted food coloring paste (you can find these at the craft stores)
- colored sugar sprinkle or candy sprinkles or assorted small decorative candies, if desired
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar.
- Beat in the egg yolk and extracts.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda-gradually add to the creamed mixture.
- Divide into two equal portions and wrap well.
- Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- Note; Refrigerating your dough and baking sheets is the secret to perfectly shaped cut-out cookies/ The cookies won't"spread" as they bake- in other words, the shapes will be well-defined/ The points on the stars will be sharp, etc/ Also, your dough will be much easier to work with and won't stick to your cookie cutters, so the extra chilling time is well worth it.
- When dough has chilled, remove one half from refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- While oven is preheating, place cookie sheets in refigerator to chill.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to less than 1/4 inch thickness.
- Cut with 2 1/2 inch floured cookie cutters.
- Reserve trimmings for re-rolling.
- Remove cookie sheets from fridge (do not grease them) and place cookies on them, 1 inch apart.
- Bake at 375F for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
- Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
- Repeat with remaining portion of dough.
- Don't forget to put your cookie sheets back in the fridge once they have cooled/ They only need to chill for about 10 minutes.
- For your frosting, in a large bowl, beat confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and water until stiff, about 5 minutes.
- Tint frosting with paste food colorings if desired.
- Keep tightly covered to prevent from drying out.
- Note; Of course you can use the regular food colorings you find in the supermarkets if you desire/ If you haven't tried the paste colorings, the colors are much more vivid than the regular food colorings/ Your X-mas trees will be much greener, Valentine hearts a brilliant red, etc/ Although they're somewhat pricier, a drop or two goes a long way.
- For detailed decorating, you can use decorating bags with small pointed tips/ You may need to thin frosting a bit to obtain right spreading or piping consistency.
- I sometimes collect pictures of decorated holiday cookies from my favorite magazines to give me some ideas.
- After decorating the cookies, set on wire racks to allow frosting to dry.
- Store in airtight, covered containers.
- Note: I am updating this recipe just to let you know about a little tip I just saw in a magazine. The person had cut out their cookies, placed them on baking sheets, and THEN refigerated them for about an hour before baking. You can do it this way also but I'd still chill your dough beforehand too, as it's easier to work with.