This recipe has been a standard in my family since it came out in Bon Appetit’s December 2002 issue. We adapted it a little bit and it is my son’s favorite recipe for Christmas cutouts.
They are great decorated with melted chocolate or buttercream frosting. We like a confectioner’s sugar glaze adapted from King Arthur Flour’s website, ‘Simple Cookie Glaze’, you’ll find that adapted recipe below as well.
The cookie and glaze recipes will make 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on how large you cut the cookies.
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and cutting
Whisk together the salt, nutmeg, baking powder and flour and set aside. Cream together butter, shortening and sugar, then add egg and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated.
Add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until well mixed and dough comes together easily. Place dough onto a floured surface and knead a couple of times, forming dough into a disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Remove dough from the refrigerator when you are ready to roll, cut and bake. Divide dough disc into four equal pieces. Keep one piece out to soften a few minutes before rolling out and cutting and place the others back in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll dough pieces out to about 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface, turning over to lightly coat both sides with flour. Cut into desired shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until edges begin to turn light golden brown. Remove and let cool completely before decorating.
Smaller cookies will take less time, larger cookies will take longer. Group your cutouts on your baking sheets according to size so they bake evenly.
3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (or use my recipe for Light Sugar Syrup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons milk – preferably whole milk
Mix all ingredients together with whisk, adding milk by tablespoon until desired consistency is reached. Glaze should fall from whisk in a thick ribbon, but be viscous enough to spread on cookies.
Divide glaze and color with gel paste food coloring, or decorate cookies with sprinkles immediately after glazing. You can also let the glaze dry and set and use food safe food coloring markers.
Keep glaze covered while you are decorating. If it begins to dry out or thicken too much, add a tiny bit of warm water to it and stir.