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Christmas Cookies

Updated on December 9, 2012
gingerbread snow flake cut outs. Royal icing piped on with cake decorating tools to make a design. Don't forget to make a hole at the top............... before you bake the cookie.
gingerbread snow flake cut outs. Royal icing piped on with cake decorating tools to make a design. Don't forget to make a hole at the top............... before you bake the cookie.

Christmas cookies with a flair.

I love making my own decorations for Christmas. It really gets me in the Christmas mood. I'm sort of a Bah! Humbug! person, so anything I can do to mellow myself out and help myself enjoy the season is on my "to do" list.

I guess I've made just about every Christmas tree decoration you can think of over the years...from strings of cranberries and popcorn, to glittery baubles, to garlands of beautiful silky ribbon. But the decorations I like the best are the ones you can eat...like colorful iced cookies you hang on the tree with a bit of satin ribbon.

Actually, I think I can say I'm an expert at making charming sugar cookie cut outs you can hang on the tree. I have collected a variety of cookie cutters and have a list of the various ingredients to make this project a creative and fun one. Be sure you have some of the basic cutters, like a star, a Christmas tree, an angel, a reindeer, a snow flake, a Santa and a gingerbread man. Anything else you want to add to that is just icing on the cake...so to speak.

In addition, you'll need: powdered egg whites, (or meringue powder), liquid food coloring, a small pastry brush, a small pointy paint brush, several small dishes or cups, and cake a decorating bag and tips. You might also have on hand some green and red sugars and other types of colorful decorations you can sprinkle on. I've included recipes for vanilla sugar and gingerbread cookies, as well as a video to demonstrate an efficient way to mix and cut out the dough. After this, I have put instructions and tips on how to decorate.

making sugar cookies

Snowflake decorated with Royal icing & sugar
Snowflake decorated with Royal icing & sugar
Decorated with Royal icing & painted with food coloring, using a small paint brush
Decorated with Royal icing & painted with food coloring, using a small paint brush

SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup(s) (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

Directions

  1. In a bowl, with mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla extract. On low, beat in flour and salt.
  2. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a 1/2-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. On floured surface, roll dough 1/8-inch thick; cut into shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet(s). Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer to racks to cool. Decorate as desired; store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, or freeze, undecorated, up to 3 months

Painted with Royal icing and sugar. Outlined by piping, using a cake decorating tool
Painted with Royal icing and sugar. Outlined by piping, using a cake decorating tool

GINGERBREAD COOKIES

Instructions

  • 1/2 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) light (mild) molasses
  • 2 teaspoon(s) ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 cup(s) (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • Colored sugar crystals, edible glitter, sprinkles, small round candies, and/or gumdrops (optional)
  • Ornamental Frosting (optional), see directions

Directions

  1. In 3-quart saucepan, heat sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up in pan). Stir in butter until melted. With fork, stir in egg, then flour.
  2. On lightly floured surface, knead dough until thoroughly mixed. Divide dough in half. Wrap half of dough with plastic wrap and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. With floured rolling pin, roll remaining half of dough slightly thinner than 1/4 inch. With floured 3- to 4-inch assorted cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings. Place cookies, 1/2 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet. Reroll trimmings and cut out more cookies.
  4. Bake cookies 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. When cookies are cool, prepare Ornamental Frosting if you like; use to decorate cookies as desired. While frosting is still wet, sprinkle with sugar crystals or glitter, or attach sprinkles, candies, and/or gumdrops if you like. Set cookies aside to allow frosting to dry completely, about 1 hour. Store cookies in tightly covered container (with waxed paper between layers, if decorated) at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or in freezer up to 3 months.

Chrismas tree cutout painted with Royal icing. Paint entire cookie with green (pour on or use soft pastry brush). Make decorative stripes with white while green is still wet.
Chrismas tree cutout painted with Royal icing. Paint entire cookie with green (pour on or use soft pastry brush). Make decorative stripes with white while green is still wet.
gorgeous cookies. Use Christmas cookie cutters instead of animals.
gorgeous cookies. Use Christmas cookie cutters instead of animals.
More beautiful cookies. Use these color and decoration ideas for your christmas cookies.
More beautiful cookies. Use these color and decoration ideas for your christmas cookies.

Now for the fun part

ROYAL ICING

Ingredients

2 c Powdered sugar; sifted
1/4 c Warm water
4 ts Meringue powder
1/4 ts Cream of tartar

Instructions

Combine all ingredients into a small mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till combined, then on high speed for 7 to 10 min. or till stiff. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, till of glazing consistency. Divide icing into small cups or dishes and add food coloring, one drop at a time until you have the color you want, leaving the largest batch of the icing white.

Use at once. Spread each cookie almost to edge with glaze. Let dry on wire rack at least 4 hours or till completely dry. Paint as desired. Painting Directions: Place small dabs of desired paste food colorings on palette paper. Using a #2 shader brush, paint the largest shape of the design in the center of the cookie. Let food coloring dry completely. Add additional shapes using a #2 filbert brush, letting each color dry before adding another. Outline shapes with a #1 script liner brush. Let dry thoroughly.

Instead of painting on your designs, you may pipe on colored Royal icing, as shown in the pictures of animal and flower cookies. Use interesting and unusual color combinations, as shown. You may also pipe or paint on recipient's names, if you plan on giving some of your art work away.

Comments

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    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 4 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hi tlpoague, so glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck with your cookie baking.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from USA

      I love cookies, but don't have a talent for decorating them. This hub gave me the inspiration to try it again. I love your variety of cookies you have posted and the idea to use them as an ornament. Thanks for sharing this fun and yummy hub.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 4 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Well, I don't refer to myself as an expert, but I have been chefing and baking at my bed and breakfast for the past 18 years. Maybe all that practice improved my skills. The creative part is from my background in Art. And it's so much fun! It's really not that hard. It just takes time and focus.

      Thanks for the nice comment, Sherry.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Wow, I guess you are the expert. They look beautiful.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @moonlake Let me know how they turn out. Thanks for the comment.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      So nice. Like your cookie decorations. I collect cookie cuttings so I have plenty to use for this project.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Thanks for the nice comment. You're right kids not only like to look at and eat Christmas cookies, they really like to make them too.

    • profile image

      that's the way the cookie crumbles 5 years ago

      I thought making cookies and forming them to circle is enough, but this one is fantastic, and it has a lot of colors that will cheer up the kids.

      I'm pretty sure they gonna love the cookies with colored icing and a twist of animating them...

      Very nice idea for business this Christmas.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hi Sally. Yes, I think Valentine's Day would be a good time to make some heart shaped sugar cookies with pink icing. :=)

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      What is the next cookie-baking occasion -- Valentine's Day? Your cookies are beautiful, and I am sure they are delicious too. Thanks for the sugar trip!!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Thanks, Julia. Not doing much of anything right now...I'm exhausted.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I am sure you make wonderful Christmas cookie decorations as gifts for everyone you know :). These are beautiful and look delicious!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      My assistant and I are baking cookies all week this week. We've picked out 10 cookies to bake and Nellieanna's is one of them. I'm dying to try it...we'll cut them out and decortate them with Royal icing...fun fun fun.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      These are the most wonderful cookies! ...and that recipe from Nellieanna looks fantastic!Thanks so much for this great hub - voted up and shared!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      I really enjoy cookie making at Christmastime. My assistant and I are going to spend the whole week after Thanksgiving making cookies for our families and friends.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You certainly have made some beautiful cookies. It has inspired me to start thinking about what cookies I'll be making for Christmas. I'll definitely have to try the sugar cookie recipe.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      You are most welcome & I'm sure yours will be gorgeous.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Wow! Thanks, Nellieanna. Looks like a great recipe. I'm going to use it for some of my Christmas cookies. Very thoughtful of you.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      I found this faded hand-written recipe on a back of a really old deposit slip - circa 1964. It doesn't elaborate much! Perhaps I'll find the cookbook where I found it originally.

      Basic Butter Cookies

      1 c. butter (2 sticks)

      1-1/2 c. powdered sugar

      1 egg, unbeaten

      1 t. vanilla

      1-1/2 c. sifted flour

      1 t. baking soda

      1 t. cream of tartar

      1/4 t. salt

      Thoroughly cream butter, add sugar gradually, continuing to cream till light and fluffy.

      Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

      Sift together dry ingredients and blend into creamed mixture.

      Divide dough and prepare as desired. May be rolled out and cut with cookie cutters or cut into squares.

      Bake on cookie sheets 8-10 minutes @ 400 Degrees.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @Nellieanna: Thanks so much.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hey Steph, yeah, kids love making cookies, especially Christmas cookies. Let me know how they turn out.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      i'll see if I can find the recipe. It's an amazing consistency.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      LOVE Christmas cookies! You got me in the mood for holiday baking with the kids

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      They are yummy...you should try making a batch for Christmas...Thanks for the comment.

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

      Wow! They look so yummy!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Nellieanna, I like the idea of using powdered sugar in the cookie dough...it must really change the texture. Sounds good.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Audrey, maybe you could just make a small batch and only decorate half of them :=)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      Wow! Just gorgeous! So creative!

      I was a big baker at one time and cutout cookies were a special challenge because so often the recipes for them tend to be rather blah and none too tender. I found a recipe which incorporated powdered sugar rather than granulated, though, and made it with real butter, and the cookies not only were tender and took to being cutout, but were melt-in-your-mouth yummy, as well. But the icing - wow - you're the expert. Those are just lovely!! (May I come see you? heh heh)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      Wonderful! Makes me wish I had more hours in my day as I would love to do these. Maybe some weekend, I will have to do them!!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Patty, Thanks so much...I appreciate it.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Rated up all the way. Photos and video add a magic touch as well.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      This project is perfct for children. Let me know how it turns out.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 6 years ago from France

      Beautiful, my children would love to do this, I'll be trying it this Christmas!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hey VioletSun, Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      You are a woman with many talents! The cookies are beautiful. I am not much of a baker but did get ideas from your hub on decorating our Christmas tree this year.

      Rated up!