Christmas has long been my favorite holiday. From picking out the tree to hot apple cider on Christmas morning, my parents somehow orchestrated a perfect Christmas every year. As I’ve grown older, I have come to appreciate our many family traditions much more. I’ve also begun to realize just how much work it takes to prepare for the world’s best Christmas. I’m not sure how my parents did it as just finding the time to make sugar cookies was tricky for me.
Fortunately I made it happen and kicked off the holidays with one of my favorite Christmas traditions: cookie decorating. As a kid, cookie decorating day usually took place on one of the first days after school let out for the holidays. My mother always had the sugar cookie and gingerbread dough ready to go (I can only imagine how late she stayed up after we went to bed) and we would spend several hours decorating cookies and munching on cookie dough.
The house would fill with the smells of baking as the kitchen counters disappeared under sugar cookies and gingerbread men. With sugar highs and tummy-aches, we would freeze some of the cookies and eat the rest.
While my mom still makes Christmas cookies for the holidays, we no longer decorate them as a family. This year however I felt the urge and so one night last week, I turned on some Christmas tunes and made sugar cookies. This recipe is one of the two recipes that we made every year and it comes from my Grandmother Betsy. While I had plans to decorate my cookies in a sophisticated and elegant way, I realized that I’m still just as impatient as my 8-year old self and generously, and quickly, dumped sprinkles over all the cookies. Just like my family’s Christmas traditions, I guess some things never change.
Grandma Betsy’s Sugar Cookies – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes about 3 dozen small cookies
Double the recipe! These cookies freeze well and they don’t last long. You’ll be glad to have extras on hand.
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Multi-colored sprinkles, for decorating
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Sift together 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk and beat on medium speed until just combined. Add the flour mixture. Beat until combined. Add up to ½ cup more flour to the dough, mixing to incorporate, until the dough is just thick enough to roll. Chill for at least three hours.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to ¼-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies in desired shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the cookies with the egg white and decorate the cookies with the sprinkles. Combine the dough scraps and repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should still be soft. Remove from the oven and cool for five minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack.