The kitchen nisse were looking over me last night. I was so tired while I was baking that I left six baking sheets of more than 100 sugar cookies in the oven. Overnight. And they were still delicious the next morning! They needed just a couple more minutes when I last checked them, not six hours, and thankfully I had turned off the oven, though I don’t remember doing so. Nevertheless, this happy accident produced a cookie that my Dear Husband believes to be even better than the original. They have a shortbread texture and a nutty quality. I still prefer the tender originals, but you can bake them either way, and if you’re sleepy, you can pop them into your oven for ten minutes, shut it off, dream happily, and wake up to toasty, delicious sugar cookie shortbread hybrids.
I make these cookies many times throughout the year in various incarnations, but for Christmas I always flavor the icing with almond extract and use Cedar Summit Farm’s inimitable cream in place of milk. I brush them with a little luster dust for a quick and pretty touch. This dough is a dream to work and makes rollout cookies a pleasure.
Music for baking these shortbread-like sugar cookies:
English carols seem appropriate here. I sang with the Magdalen College choir when I was a student, and listening to their CD, Carols for a Christmas Morning sung by the Choir of Magdalen College Oxford, brings back very fond memories. This CD, Carols from Oxford, is similar.
This recipe is quite flexible. If you mix it up as directed it produces a stable yet tender cookie which does not rise or spread. If you cut the flour called for in half it produces a more delicate cookie which spreads. I use the standard recipe for cutting out shapes and reduce the flour when I’m making a round cookie. Both are delicious.
I roll this dough up to ½” thick for large shapes and ¼ “ for small shapes. Cookies rolled 1/8” will work, but watch them carefully in the oven so that they do not become too dry.
Set your timer for ten minutes and begin checking the cookies every couple of minutes. Thick cookies take a bit longer to bake.
This dough does not brown in the oven. Look for a dry appearance. The cookie should be a bit firm to the touch when it is ready. I prefer a slightly under baked cookie, which remains tender.
I always make two to four batches of this dough. A quadruple batch, which is what I made for Christmas, yields about 100 ¼ “ thick, 3” cookies.
You may use extracts such as vanilla, almond or peppermint to flavor this icing. Plain is yummy, too.
Use the back of your spoon to smooth out any lumps in the icing. You may also run the icing through a fine mesh strainer if you forgot to sift the confectioners sugar and you have a lot of lumps.
You may also spread this icing. I just find dunking quick and easy.
This recipe is part of the Cookie Baking and Candy Making Plan for Christmas 2010 (here).
1 c. unsalted butter
¾ c. sugar
3 c. flour
- Preheat your oven: 350 degrees for convection ovens, 375 degrees for conventional ovens.
- In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar.
- Add the egg and beat well.
- Add the flour and beat well. The mixture will be rather dry.
- Remove from the mixer and give it a good knead on your counter.
- Roll the dough out to the desired thickness and cut into shapes using cookie cutters.
- Bake 8-20 minutes depending on the size of your shape and the thickness of the dough.
Almond Cream Icing
½ pound confectioners sugar
- Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl.
- Add a glug of almond extract.
- Add ¼ c. cream and begin stirring.
- Add cream 1 T. at a time until the icing reaches the consistency of Elmer’s glue.
- Allow the icing to rest until the air bubbles settle.
- To decorate the cookies, hold each cookie by its edges and dunk its top surface into the icing. Allow the excess to run off the cookie and back into the bowl.
- Rest the cookies on a baking rack set over a paper bag or waxed paper as you finish icing each one.
- Allow the icing to dry completely.
- With an artist’s brush, swipe a touch of luster dust across each cookie.