So tell me, how was your weekend? I hope it was the best, first weekend of December ever!!!
And now I say it’s only fitting to make this the best, first Monday of December by baking up a storm of Christmas cookies. You with me????
Okay, so this past week I was in the mood to decorate some Christmas cookies but I realized I don’t have a basic cut-out sugar cookie recipe on the blog and I was like “What!?!?” That’s unacceptable in my book, what an outrage. Of course, I think everyone has plenty of the very basic types of recipes for them so I thought I’d do a little variation and add cream cheese to mine this time.
I tried a few different versions cuz the cream cheese gives them a different texture and, I’ll be honest here, the first batch were like cardboard. That’s part of the experimenting and recipe development process though. I think around batch number 3 they were pretty good and then by batch number 4 it was almost exactly what I was going for. I wanted enough cream cheese in them to taste it but not so much the it ruined them by making them dry. You’ll have to tell me what you think, but I think this recipe gets that balance just right. Alright, then after all the baking and boring stuff it’s time for the fun part, decorating them with anything and everything you see fit! Yay!
Confession: I have a problem with getting overwhelmed by my own overload of inspiration in things like cookie decorating. I mean, do you have any idea how many ways you can do them, there are endless possibilities. You can make them round or cut them into shapes, you can add coloring to the dough or just to the frosting, you can coat them in sparkly sugar and call it good or leave them plain and add icing…. Oh, and don’t even get me started on things like slice and bake shapes and sprinkles! Do you see my problem here?
Hopefully you’re more decisive in this than I am. As you can see I finally chose one of the most simplistic approaches and left them white on white with minimal icing to save myself the headache, but of course colors would be fun for the kiddos. It’s just that the older I get the more I appreciate plain, no-dye icing and a more rustic look. It’s the purist side of my personality. Call me a cookie snob, but it’s like I feel that they’re more sophisticated looking that way.
Ah, speaking of that, question: how do you guys feel about colored Christmas lights? Yes, you love them, or no, not at all? Kinda, sorta? I’ve realized this Christmas season that I’ve allowed something to happen to me and I’m finding it pretty hilarious in fact. I’ve taken on one of my parent’s opinions (Haha, I know, the very thing we all promise ourselves never to do, right?) and I pretty much hate them. My dad always said that he thought they looked cheap so we never had them in our decor and now they just don’t seem right to me.
Fine, I guess hate is a bit strong and I should clarify what I mean. I just don’t like them at all when mixed with classic white lights in the same room. Maybe they’re okay if it’s only colored lights in a room or on the outside of a house, but I still prefer the white over the colored ones all day long. For example, my sister wanted to decorate her son’s room this year since it’s his first Christmas that he’ll be old enough to really enjoy it, so she used the extra lights we had after putting up all the decorations and the only lights left were the colored. I actually like how she used them when they were on their own. Yeah, okay, I’m a weirdo and this probably doesn’t make much sense.
Anyway thought, whether you like all the colors or not, you still should make these cookies and your Monday is gonna be awesome! Ooooooh, and, AND, don’t forget to weigh the options for your perfect accompanying drinks! Cocoa, nog, chai lattes, mugs of steaming hot coffee, or anything else you might see fit to drink with them! Have a great week!
Cream Cheese Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
The holiday season just wouldn't be complete without a day of cookie baking. These simple sugar cookies get their lovely flavor and texture from a few unexpected ingredients.
- 1/2 cup vegan butter softened or organic vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup vegan "cream cheese" (I used GoVeggie) softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar together until creamed (about 2 minutes). Mix in extracts and scrape the sides of bowl then sift in flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until the flour is combined, trying not to overmix. Scrape the dough out of bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a ball and flatten into a disc then place it on a large plate and cover with plastic wrap to seal. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.
Once cold, divide the dough in half and roll out each half one at a time on a lightly floured surface into a layer about 1/2 inch thick. Use a sharp knife or cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. (For an easier option you can skip rolling them out and simply form the dough into 1 inch balls for round cookies. Another easy option is to form the dough into a, 2- inch in diameter log, and chill until hard enough to slice and bake.)
Place cookies at least 1-inch apart on a parchment lined baking tray and place tray in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill before baking. (This helps them to keep they're shapes perfectly and also helps them bake soft.
Once chilled, bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly browned on edges. Remove from oven and cool completely. If desired, decorate with frosting and sprinkles. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.
Mix all ingredients for icing in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon it into a small tipped pastry bag and decorate the cookies as desired.