I love, love, love making and baking cookies. But decorated cookies... I cringe every time someone asks for them. No, I really don't, but... <sigh> let's just say that I don't make these often.
And when it's time for the blue moon to appear... or when the stars align... I fold and say yes to someone in need of decorated cookies.
But I didn't use my trusty cookie cutter recipe this time around. Instead I found this... and now I have two go-to cookie cutter cookie recipes. Why have two recipes? Martha Stewart's recipe is what I would categorize as being a traditional sugar cookie cutout recipe. When you break the baked cookie, it snaps... that's from using granulated sugar. As for Meaghan Mountford's recipe... these are more tender with a shortbread-like texture... that's because of the cornstarch content in powdered sugar. But, hey, don't take my word for it - try both recipes and make your own conclusions.
Cookie Cutter Cookies
Adapted from The Decorated Cookie
2 1/2 cups (13 oz) all-purpose flour, sifted (note: I've used whole wheat and white pastry flours with much success. If these are available in your area, I recommend using either one.)
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 oz) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 each large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (optional)
- Sift the flour on to waxed or parchment paper for ease of transport (and one less dish to wash). Set aside.
- Sift the powdered sugar on to waxed or parchment paper for ease of transport (and another less dish to wash). Set aside.
- In the bowl of your electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).
- Add the egg and flavoring(s) and beat until combined.
- Add the flour and mix until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Work with about 1/3 of the batch at a time. Briefly knead the chilled dough. Roll out to 1/4- to 1/8-inch thickness on to a lightly floured surface or on parchment paper.
- Cut desired shapes. Place the cutouts on the prepared cookie sheets and refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bake the chilled cutouts for 12 to 14 minutes just until edges are golden brown.
- Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack. Cool completely before decorating.