Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Words can't describe how much I adore Christmas sugar cookies.  Everyone knows this is the most wonderful time of the year and there are so many things that I love about Christmas.  I love that people are more giving, families get together, lights brighten the cold December air, and I can listen to old Christmas music shamelessly.  And I love making Christmas cookies.  Cookies are great any time of the year, but something about Christmas makes them special.  They are perfect for giving  and are part of so many family traditions.  I look forward to these all year! 

For these Christmas cookies, I used my Holiday Sugar Cookie recipe and Royal Icing (click on either to view the recipe!).  I made Christmas trees, stockings, bells, stars, and gingerbread men.  I think it is a good idea to keep the color scheme pretty simple.  The more colors you have, the more colors you have to mix and the more bowls, squeeze bottles, pastry bags, and tips you have to clean.  Yuck!

Make the cookie dough according to the recipe.  Roll it out, and cut with your favorite Christmas cookie cutters.  I don't know if it was because it was a rainy day in Kansas when I made these cookies or what, but my dough was sticky.  Add flour as needed.  Nothing is more frustrating than sticky dough! 
I will also blame the dark, dreary day for the poor lighting in my pictures.  If only it had snowed, it would have been the perfect day for Christmas cookie making!
I also had a little issue with my cookies puffing up during baking.  It is expected that they will puff up some, but this seemed excessive to me.  My wonderful Christmas shapes practically turned into Christmas blobs.  I haven't had this problem with the recipe before, so I'm going to blame that on the weather, too.  Or maybe I overdid the baking powder.  The world will never know!
Fortunately, I had a solution to my pesky puffy cookie problem.  While the cookies were still warm, I cut them out again with my cookie cutters.
 Now I had perfectly shaped cookies. 
And cookie scraps that just had to be eaten.  There was just nothing else I could do with them.
Here are some of my double-cut cookies all lined up:
Let your cookies cool completely before decorating.  You can even wait until the next day.  Sugar cookies keep really well.  When my cookies were ready, I started out with stiff white icing for outlining my stars and part of my stockings and gingerbread men.  The outlining is best done with a pastry bag.  I used a #3 tip on my bag.

Then I made stiff yellow icing for the outline of the tree stars and trunks, and the bells.  I also did green outline for the body of the trees and some of the gingerbread men.  But I apparently forgot to take a picture of that.  Oops!
When the outline was dry, I made thin white icing to fill in the top and bottom of my stockings and parts of my gingerbread men.  I did white filling first because I did the white outlining first, so it was dry first.  Next came stiff red icing for the stockings and bodies of some of the gingerbread men.
Then I made thin yellow icing to fill in the bells, stars, and trunks.  I also did one gingerbread man in yellow.  Confession: I only have two squeeze bottles and I don't want to clean them between different colors.  So I pick two colors that are going in the bottles.  I try to pick colors that I will be using for designs (more on that below).  The other colors just get spooned onto the cookies.  Works for me!
This gingerbread man had an unfortunate leak.  Make sure there aren't any gaps in your outline!  But if you do spring a leak, it wipes off easily and no one needs to know!
Next I made thin red icing for the bows on the bells, the stockings, and some of the gingerbread men.  If you are putting sprinkles on your cookies (and why wouldn't you?) do it while the icing is still wet.
I also designed some clothes for my gingerbread men.  I used a squeeze bottle with thin white icing for this.  Make sure to also do this while the icing is still wet.  Maybe I should have majored in apparel design!  Just kidding, that would have been a disaster!
Then I made thin green icing to fill the trees, and some green gingerbread men.  I did the red and green spots with thin icing in a squeeze bottle like I did for the white stripes.
My red icing was a little too thin so the spots spread a little more than I would have liked.  Oh, well!
When the thin fill icing was dry, I did some detail on the bells because they seemed a little plain.  I did this with stiff icing in a pastry bag.
And that's all there is to it!  Now go make some Christmas cookies and spread some holiday cheer!


  1. Nice job Amber! Were you able to keep Chantz from eating all the cookies when he got home? I know he looks forward to your sugar cookies! :)

  2. I did give most of them away as a gift for Chantz's office party, but I made sure we kept some for ourselves! Chantz once told me sugar cookies were the worst cookies. I think he is changing his mind. But chocolate chip is still his favorite!

  3. Amber, they look pretty tasty. I would suggest that you chill your cookie dough. You know I always made the dough one day and the cookies the next. Are you using the family recipe? It is usually foolproof!.

  4. I did let the cookie dough cool overnight like we always did! I even let them cool again on the baking sheets before I baked them. They still turned out good, they were just a little more stubborn than they usually are!

  5. I think you're on to something with the weather! My recipe is slightly different from yours in that it calls for confectioners sugar instead of granulated, but other than that, pretty similar. But, in spite of following proper sugar cookie protocol (chilled dough, cool pans, etc.), mine puffed up like the Michelin man on steroids! It's a snowy, dreary day in SW KS, so I'm going to call this a weather incident too! ;) I thought your idea of going back over them with the cookie cutters worked out rather nicely--thanks for sharing it with those of us who are less blessed with imaginative solutions! You saved the gingerbread, ahem, "sugar cookie man"! :-)

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  7. I was the lucky receipant of these cookies at the office party :) ! They were great. I noticed the sides were really clean and crisp and wondered how you did that. I have the same trouble with cookie dough myself and I think it was a neat idea to cut them again with the cutters. I will definately use that trick myself in the future. Chantz told me about your blog - I will be dropping in from time to time to check it out. Always like tips from other bakers. Thanks!

  8. Just noticed my spelling error - sorry. Meant to say I was the lucky recipient... :)