As I plow through my list of holiday baking, cookies keep disappearing from the freezer. And it's these almond sugar cookies that James seems to like most. We made a batch for our Christmas cookie and craft beer exchange last week and stashed extras in the freezer to enjoy when our families come to visit later this month. I don't know if these cookies will make it that long!
Christmas just isn't the same without hand-decorated sugar cookies. My mom made them when we were growing up and my brother and I always had a blast helping decorate with frosting and sprinkles. That's still my favorite part! James and I teamed up to frost these while watching Christmas Vacation and it definitely put us in the holiday spirit.
Unlike many of the recipes I gravitate towards during the holidays, this one didn't come from my family. A friend gave me this recipe about five years ago and I haven't made another sugar cookie since. I've never been a huge fan of how cut-out cookies taste, but these are amazing. I love any almond-flavored baked good and the extract helps give these cookies a richer flavor profile.
When I want the cookies to look perfect, I frost them using a classic royal icing. They always look impressive, but nothing tastes better than homemade buttercream. I've opted for taste over presentation the past couple of years and have absolutely no regrets.
If you bake a batch of these, I suggest asking your neighbor to stick the extras in their freezer - otherwise they'll quickly disappear!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- gel food coloring of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on high speed, cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and extracts and beat until just combined, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Slowly pour in half of the flour mixture and stir until combined. Repeat with remaining flour and stir until just combined and crumbly.
- Pour dough out onto a clean, lightly-floured surface and knead with hands until dough bits come together. Use a lightly-floured rolling pin to roll dough out evenly until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies out using cookie cutters and transfer to the baking sheet, leaving about two inches between each cookie. Combine leftover dough and roll out to cut out more cookies. Repeat the process until you run out of dough.
- Placing one cookie sheet in the oven at a time, bake cookies on the middle oven rack until the bottom edges just start to turn golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and let sit on baking sheet for two minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- To make frosting, combine butter, powdered sugar, milk and extracts in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium until smooth. Use a couple drops of gel food coloring to tint the frosting, stirring rapidly to make it easier to spread. Frost cookies using icing spatulas and decorative pastry tips.