Every year I like to try a couple of new cookie recipes at Christmas, but these soft sugar cookies are a given. This recipe came from a school fundraising book that my mom bought in the late 80s – the spiral bound sort that are a compilation of parents and grandparents recipes. Nicole Garbutt is the author’s name, printed next to this recipe on a little scrap that I cut from the page – the only scrap left of the book. What Nicole doesn’t know is that she started a tradition.
I doubt a year has gone by since that I haven’t made them.
These cookies stay impossibly, melt-in-your-mouth soft. They’re just slightly sweet, the perfect vehicle for decadently sweet Vanilla Bean Buttercream frosting. This recipe makes a lot of cookies – the perfect amount to box up and deliver to your neighbors.
You can skip the vanilla bean seeds if you like, but I promise it’s worth the effort. As a bonus, you can build yourself an ever refillable bottle of homemade vanilla extract – instructions here (I recommend a 50/50 mixture of rum and vodka) .
As for the new recipes to try this year, I have to start with my dear friend Giovanna. She promised to share her Cantucci recipe – the wonderful, biscotti like cookies that Italians dip into Vin Santo. (One of our favorite desserts while we were in Italy.)
And here are a few other spectacular looking treats that I’ve come across this year and can’t wait to try:
- Indian Cashew and Pistachio Nut Brittle from Elizabeth of Savory Salty Sweet
- Coffee White Chocolate Nut Blondies from Paula at Vintage Kitchen Notes
- Brown Sugar Shortbread from Nicole of Pinch My Salt
- Tea Bag Cookies from Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella
- Chocolate Puddle Cookies from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks
- Oatmeal Whoopie Pies from Neshanne of Oishii Treats
- Or for something savory, these Feta and Chive Sour Cream Scones from Joy of Joy the Baker look amazing.
I wish you very Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.
I can’t come up with any words to discuss the Newtown school shootings – I feel helpless, angry, so sad. I appreciated this article sharing ways for all of us to reach out to the families.
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening such as Spectrum brand
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted room temperature butter (preferably 85% butterfat)
- 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean see video in post
- milk or cream if necessary
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- With a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix just until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to bowl; mix well.
- Chill dough at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
- Divide dough in half. Place one half back in the refrigerator; transfer other half to lightly floured work surface. Roll dough 1/4" thick (no thinner!) - cut with desired cookie cutters and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving 1" between cookies as they'll puff and spread.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes until set, but look slightly underdone. Remove from oven and allow to cool 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
- Repeat with remaining dough. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Add room temperature butter to a mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer or to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing on the lowest speed - to avoid a sugar flurry - until sugar and butter begin to clump.
- Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, scraped vanilla seeds and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream; beat for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy. (Don't worry if it looks dry at first, it takes a couple of minutes to transform from clumps to luscious, creamy frosting.) Check the consistency. If it's too runny, add more sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the consistency you want. If it's too stiff, add milk/cream 1 tablespoon at a time.