Hello! I know you’re all super-busy with last-minute baking, gift-hunting, and party-attending, but if you can find a few hours to actually slow down, there’s nothing that warms your heart, clears your mind, and brings you to the present than a baking session, particularly if you have little “helpers” (I put that in quotes because very often the littles actually make it more challenging, but the memories you create and the joy you feel is priceless).
And half the fun of making cookies is the decorating part! Enter the classic sugar cookie … these are so delightful because they’re simple — butter, sugar, eggs, flour … a wonderful contrast to all the heavy, rich foods you’ll often encounter during the holiday season. I always leave a few of these unfrosted and just eat them plain (seriously amazing with a hot cup of coffee).
And, since I’m a full-time working momma, with two little girls under two-and-a-half, with a very long to-do list that never seems to stop growing, I’ll let you in on a little secret — I just used pre-made frosting. No shame …. just try to find one that uses real sugar and without hydrogenated oils (try Simple Mills or Wholesome Organic). And then use your imagination with the decorations! Let your kiddies go wild with the sprinkles and candies, or go simple and elegant with a few soft colors and sanding sugar.
But most importantly, enjoy the process — use it as an opportunity to slow down, get lost in the moment with the people you love, and fully experience all the joy this beautiful season has to offer.
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract — beat using an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy
In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, stir until well combined
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, stirring until well-combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for two hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper
On a very lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.
Transfer to cookie sheets, and place about 2 inches apart.
Bake 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges. Remove to wire cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.
And now comes the fun part! Frosting and decorating!
As I said above, if you’re taking a more fun, low-key approach, give the kiddies a bunch of goodies to work with — different color frostings, a variety of sprinkles, mini-candies, marshmallows, etc.
If you’re trying to keep things simple and elegant — perhaps you want to take them to a party where the average age is over 5, or to the office. In that case, choose 3-4 complimentary colors and stick to them. I chose ivory, soft grey, pink, green — and tried to keep things frosty, sparkly, and whimsical. Choose a theme, colors to match, and go for it!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
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