This is another recipe that my fabulous mother-in-law gave me. This is the recipe she used for the Santa Claus cookies that were a part of every Christmas cookie plate that she made. They continue to be part of her children and grandchildren’s Christmas tradition to this day.
Our family still makes them the same way every year. They are really silly looking, but we all love them and it wouldn’t be Christmas without these cookies.
The reason that I love this recipe, in addition to its wonderful flavor, is they don’t spread at all, and they keep their cut out shape very well. I re-roll my scraps at the very end, because the more you roll the dough, the less stable it becomes and it may bubble or lose shape. I notice it most often on circles and squares. The first ones I cut out are the ones that I need for a specific purpose. The last ones I cut are for my home cookie jar because my husband doesn’t care if they are misshapen. He loves them all!
One important thing I have learned is to not soften my butter too much. You want to be able to press on it and leave your finger mark but not soft enough to spread on bread easily. Another tip is to not mix the dough too long for the most tender cookie. Mix it only until it all comes together.
Approx. 3+ dozen 3″ cookies
- 1 Cup (8 ounces) butter, slightly softened*
- 1 1/2 Cups (315 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp lemon extract**
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 1/4 Cups (522 grams) flour ***
Mix butter and granulated sugar until thoroughly blended. You don’t need to “cream” your butter and sugar. The more you mix your dough at each stage the more your cookies will spread while being baked. Add eggs and extracts. Mix well. Add flour, mix until just combined. Do not over mix your dough. Separate the dough into 2 or 3 balls, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. The dough can also be frozen at this point. Defrost it in the refrigerator. The dough will keep for a few days, in the refrigerator.
Take one piece of dough out and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes. The dough will be very hard, but it softens quickly. Working with one section of dough at a time, roll the dough on a floured surface, to about 1/4″ thickness, and cut into desired shapes. Less is more when it comes to flouring your pastry cloth. The more flour you incorporate into the rolled dough, the tougher your cookies will be.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are slightly brown on the bottom. All ovens are different so keep an eye on your cookies the first time you make them to determine the best time for your oven.
*Make sure you don’t over soften your butter. You should be able to make an dent with your finger when pressed but not so soft that your finger will go right into the butter.
**You may substitute any other flavoring you may prefer for the lemon but don’t eliminate the vanilla. Be aware of nut allergies if you choose to use almond extract.
***This dough is stickier than some recipes. I roll my cookies out on a pastry cloth with flour so this recipe allows for some added flour from the rolling process. If you do not use flour to roll your cookies you may add an additional 1/4 cup of flour to the recipe.
Royal Icing recipe can be found here
This is the recipe for the original frosting that we used for the sugar cookies. It’s a delicious frosting. It will crust some which makes it perfect for stacking, with waxed paper between layers.
- 1/4 Cup butter, softened
- 4 Cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
- 2 egg whites (may substitute pasteurized egg whites instead of using raw egg whites)
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
- Beat all ingredients. You may add more milk if you want the icing softer but start with 1 Tablespoon. Store leftover frosting in the refrigerator or freezer. Will keep for about a week in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer.
If you want to learn the easiest, most incredible way to fill your icing bag, check out Karen’s video. Just so you know, I’m not compensated in any way to link Karen’s shop, but she is really terrific to deal with and very responsive to any questions you might have.