Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cutout Cookies

My favorite cutout cookie recipe is:

White Velvet Cutouts

2 cups butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour

Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Roll out to 1/4" thickness and cut out cookies. Bake at 350degrees for 10-12 minutes.

You may remember them from my post about Pumpkin Cutout cookies way back in October. When I originally posted this recipe, I showed the rolling and cutting out process, but not the part where I combined 2 cups of butter and a package of cream cheese with 4 other ingredients to make the dough for these yummy cookies. So in the tradition of Paul Harvey, oldest syndicated radio personality in America, here is the rest of the story...

Cream 2 cups of butter with 8 oz. of cream cheese.

Now add in 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 cups of sugar.

Gradually add in the 4 1/2 cups of flour and mix until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough.

Now, I like to separate the dough into 3-4 parts and wrap individually in plastic. You're supposed to chill it for 2 hours. I usually make mine the night before baking.

You'll eventually roll the dough out to 1/4" thickness on a floured surface, cut out the cookies using the cutter of your choice and bake them at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. But that's not the fun part, so lets jump ahead to the decorating!

You can make your plain old iced Christmas cutouts fancy by using a couple of decorating tips and some sprinkles. I like to use Butter Cream Icing on these cutouts.

Butter Cream Icing

1/2 cup Crisco shortening
2 tablespoons butter
Cream the first two ingredients together.
Add 1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/3 cup milk
Add the milk slowly. You want the frosting more fluffy than runny, so when you reach the desired consistency, stop pouring the milk.

As I said, I like to used butter cream icing for the cookies, however this time I just used 2 tubs of store bought frosting. Shame on me. I'd had my fill of making icing with the gingerbread barn. Plus, the store icing really does spread nicely and we weren't making that many cookies. A word of caution, just allow extra time for the store bought icing to dry on the cookies before you plate them up to give away.

I divided my icing into 5 small bowls and then colored it.

Red- Stockings and Candy Canes
Green- Christmas Trees
Yellow- Bells and Stars
Blue- to outline the stars. You don't need very much of this
White- for the "fur" on top of the stockings and the lines on the candy canes

I put a little red and blue icing into decorating bags with writing tips and yellow and white icing into bags with star tips. The rest of the icing went to frost the cookies.

I'll start with the tree cookies. I frosted them green and then sprinkled with nonpareils to look like little Christmas balls. Then I piped five or six swags with red icing onto the tree for garland and used the star tipped yellow icing to put a little star on top. Super easy.

To decorate the stocking cookies, I frosted them red. Then I piped on white icing with a star tip. Make a zig zag motion as you squeeze the icing out. I sprinkled with a little red sugar.

The bells get frosted yellow or gold and sprinkled with gold sugar. I piped a red ribbon at the top.

The candy canes get frosted red and then I pipe on white stripes with a star tip. You could also frost them white and use the red icing with a writing tip to make stripes.

The stars are frosted yellow and then I sprinkle on some blue sugar and I outline the star with blue icing. I've also done orange outlines and sprinkles with these. The stars are my favorite.

Now that my decorating is finished, I turned the fun task of decorating the last 2 dozen cookies over to my daughter and her friend. I just set the bowls of icing and all of the sprinkles on the table and let them have at it. Of course, I supervised closely with napkins in hand.

A helpful hint: small utensils for spreading the icing work better for small hands. I had the girls use little cheese knives to ice their cookies.

The result of their sweet work:

Here are a few close ups of some of my favorites:

Happy Holidays!

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