Finally, we get to the quintessential Christmas cookie. Yes, there are worthwhile traditions and delicious reasons to make all those other cookies, but the cookie that really means Christmas is the cut-out, frosted, sugar cookie.
In our family, that means Grandma Vera Anderson’s Sugar Cookie recipe. It also means help from whatever youngsters are around for some creative decorating. I love the traditional Santa Claus and Christmas tree cookies, but gather a bunch of 3 to13-year-olds around colored icing and bottles of sprinkles and you never can tell what the final product will be. A blue Santa. A Christmas tree with tiny dinosaurs and stars?
This is the recipe that is so similar to the sugar cookie that Brette Sember told us about — the one that originated in her family with her great-grandmother. As Brette explained, the dough is difficult to handle and the full recipe makes way too many cookies, but the taste and texture are unique and it is all totally worth it when you bite into Grandma’s sugar cookies.
I usually make these with sour cream, but this year went back to souring milk with a little vinegar the way that Grandma did. I also used Crisco, since that was what I remember her using in her cookies. Although I usually use butter, they do not taste all that different.
Finally, don’t worry if you have to add flour. It’s a sticky dough and I probably use another two cups of flour by the time I’m through–on the cloth I roll them out on, on the rolling pin sleeve, and on the dough itself. It is a delicate balance, because too much flour and you wind up with a cardboardy cookie instead of the crisp on the outside, soft on the inside texture you want.
This time around, the recipe made 8 dozen sugar cookies–and that includes some large Santas and Christmas trees as well as small bells and stars.
Although I did not include a frosting recipe, I use a simple one– two cups of confectioner sugar to 1/4 cup butter, with a couple spoonfuls of milk and a dash of vanilla. I probably made four times that much for this batch of cookies. Kids slather the frosting on more thickly than you might, so take that into consideration.
Plus you need to have separate dishes of red, green, gold–and, yes, blue besides leaving some white. Make the cookie dough two days before decorating and store in fridge. Bake a day before so the kids won’t have to wait impatiently for cookies to dress up. Then all hands put on their aprons and away they go.