August 16, 2011

Holiday Butter Cookies

I'm a cookie cutter fanatic! I found a set of beautiful snowflake cookie cutters in the Bakers Catalog (King Arthur Flour) and tried this recipe they used with them. They turned out perfect! The thing I like about the icing is it dries hard so you can layer them without ruining the design. It's a great cookie to give away as gifts! They also freeze well- I made a big batch for a tea a couple of months ago and didn't have time to decorate them. I pulled them out yesterday and the flavor was still buttery and tender-great excuse to invite a few of my daughter's friends for tea! Speaking of cookie cutters, be sure to check out the Ann Clark Cookie Cutter site. The watering can and teacup cutters (my favorites!) are just a sampling of over 200 unique cutters they offer. She's got a fun website with lots of great ideas and recipes! Best of all, they're made right here in the U.S.A.! Have fun!

1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1-1/2 tablespoons, or up to 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk;
enough to make a pourable/spreadable icing
food coloring, optional
1 cup coarse sugar or colored sugar for decorating, optional

Combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt and flavor, beating until smooth. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. The mixture will seem dry at first, but will suddenly become cohesive. If it doesn't, dribble in a tablespoon of water. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flattened disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it soften for about 20 to 30 minutes, till it feels soft enough to roll. It should still feel cold, but shouldn't feel rock-hard. Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour, and flour your rolling pin. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it to 1/8" to 3/16" thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes. Re-roll and cut the dough scraps. Place the cookies on un-greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. They can be close together; they'll barely spread. Bake the cookies in a preheated 350 oven for about 12 to 14 minutes, until they're set and barely browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool right on the pan. If you've used parchment, you can lift the cookies and parchment off the pan, so you can continue to use the pan as the cookies cool. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. When cookies are completely cool, ice and decorate. For the icing, combine sugar, milk and corn syrup to make a soft, spreadable icing, adding more milk if necessary. Tint the icing with food color as desired. Spread the icing with a knife or use pastry bags-allow to harden before storing.

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