Christmas Cookies Galore: Tried and True Frosted Sugar Cookies

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Happy holidays to the foodie blogosphere! The past few days  have been filled with family, lots of food, presents, BAKING and some much needed down time.  In my time off school, I’ve [obviously] been tearing apart the internet for recipes, but I’ve also been catching up on sleep, playing video games and watching TV.   I don’t think I will get to have these sorts of breaks once I graduate and get a job… so, I am very grateful for such a relaxing time!

In case any of you are wondering what the Princess in the Kitchen did in terms of Christmas cookies this year… you’re in the right place.  My mom and I fell into a holiday frenzy on the 23rd trying to prepare food and desserts for the celebrations to come.  We ended up making traditional frosted sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and salted caramel pretzel bark.
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Sugar cookies are just a Christmastime staple in my family.  My dad grew up with basic, frosted sugar cookies at Christmas so my mom has always felt obligated to keep the tradition alive for him.   She is the master recipe hoarder (my food/recipe/cooking obsession is just a product of the gene pool), and she ended up finding a great recipe from Crumbly Cookie.  The author, Bridget tried five different recipes and chose her favorite… and my family agrees with her choice!

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I personally prefer soft and chewy sugar cookies (definitely not crunchy or too flour-y tasting) with a butter-y almond-y flavor.  These cookies are all of the above… and they hold their shape quite well!

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Santa even ate all of his sugar cookies.  Mmm, mmm… tastes like Christmas!

Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounce) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. In a one-cup measuring cup, lightly beat the egg with the extracts.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer), beat the butter and salt on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar; add the lemon zest. Beat on medium until fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, pour egg mixture and continue beating until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and mix just until evenly blended.

Lightly knead the dough to form a ball, press it into a 1-inch thick disk a wrap tight in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375F. If you’ve chilled the dough overnight, it’ll need to sit at room temperature for a half an hour or so to soften slightly. On a very lightly floured sheet of wax paper with a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies using a floured cookie cutter. Re-roll scraps, always using as little flour as necessary. (TIP: Here, I used white sugar instead of flour.)

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 5-9 minutes, until they no longer look wet on top. The baking time will depend on the size of the cookies you’ve cut. You don’t want the bottoms to be browned, except for maybe just a bit on the edges. Let the cookies rest for a couple minutes on the sheets before transferring them to cooling racks to finish cooling. Decorate as desired.

Recipe from Crumbly Cookie

Quick Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup (16 tablespoons/2 sticks) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (I subbed eggnog here!)

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Recipe from Food Network

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This is my hilariously animated brother, John, who is still learning to smile properly.

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Grapefruit Buttercream Frosting

Today I made Grapefruit Cupcakes (using the Grapefruit Cake recipe, if you do this, bake for 25-28 minutes instead of 60).  Because these were cupcakes… I decided that a regular glaze was just not enough as a topping.  Cupcakes need frosting, it’s just a fact.  So, I whipped up a nice vegan buttercream with grapefruit reduction– and it was perfect! Easy to pipe and perfectly pink.

Grapefruit Buttercream

Makes enough for 12-14 cupcakes

1 1/2 c. grapefruit juice
1/2 t grapefruit zest
1/2 C Earth Balance
1/2 C non-hydrogenated shortening
2 c. confectioner’s sugar

For the grapefruit juice reduction, heat the grapefruit juice over medium-high heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This part will be done when the juice has reduced to about 1/4 cup and is syrupy.  Put in fridge, chill until cold.

In a large bowl, beat the the Earth Balance and shortening until smooth.  Add confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a time, pausing to mix between each scoop and scraping down the sides as necessary.  Add 2-3 TBS of the grapefruit reduction and incorporate thoroughly.  Taste.  If it needs more flavor, add the remaining grapefruit reduction as well as an extra 1/2 c. of confectione’rs sugar in order maintain the consistency. Once you’ve reached your desired flavor, add zest and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 

Recipe  inspired by Katie at the Kitchen Door

**a note about these pictures- I took this one.  I read somewhere that some bloggers just use their iPhones to take pictures. Clearly my Android is not such high quality. Oh well… you get the point right?