Today I decided to make not a Christmas cookie from my childhood, but from my husband’s. When Justin was a kid, his family used to make these crisp, roll out, vanilla scented cookies, cut them with various cookie cutters, brush them with butter and decorate them with colored sugar. His favorite cookies, like spritz, are always the pain in the butt kind of cookies. Makes sense. While they do take awhile to make, they are so fun for the kids to decorate. We always end up knee deep in sprinkles and have to pry the cookies off the parchment because they are shalacked with colored sugar to the sheet. My daughter put sprinkles on one cookie so thick, I was able to scoop some of them off with a spoon and decorate 4 other cookies and the original cookie was still pretty caked. Then, my husband comes by and decorates his one cookie each year, so he can say he helped. But, that’s okay because there are more for us to decorate and that is our favorite part. It makes it all worth it when Sammie says to me, “This is so fun! This is the best day of my life.” Mine too, sweet girl. Mine too.
Yield: depends on how thin you roll them and the sizes of the cookie cutters- I get about 80 cookies.
2 cups sugar
1 pound butter (room temp)- cut into chunks
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped or up to 1 tsp vanilla bean paste- optional
2 tsp baking powder
6 to 8 cups all purpose flour
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. This will take several minutes, as you want it to be more smooth than granular. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and vanilla bean/paste if using. In a medium bowl, mix 6 cups of flour with the baking powder. Slowly add this flour mixture into the butter mixture until all incorporated. Continue to add plain flour until you get the right consistency- you want it still wet, but not super sticky. It should hold together when you press it with your fingers. I usually add about 6 and 3/4 cups total. I would err on the side of too sticky, as you can always add more flour when rolling the dough. Chill a minimum of 2 hours for the dough to get firm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll about a 1/4 of the batch at a time on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Roll to a bit less than 1/4 inch thickness. Use various shaped cookie cutters to cut the dough. Place the shaped dough on parchment lined cookie sheets and refrigerate for about 1/2 hour. (I skip this step- if you refrigerate, you will get less spreading, but I find I get little spreading anyways and it just takes more time). Brush the tops with melted butter and apply colored sugar to decorate. Bake for 6-9 minutes. Remove from the oven when they just start to brown on the edges- the tops should not be brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and finish cooling on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Source: Jeanne Gates (my mother in law)
- I add a vanilla bean scraped or about 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste. I like the extra vanilla flavor.
- Start checking for doneness at 6 minutes, but mine took close to 9 minutes. You want them to just be starting to brown on the edges. The tops should not be brown or they are overdone.
- Make sure the cookie sheets are cool in between batches to reduce spreading.
- I like using parchment paper. It makes for easy removal of the cookies cemented to the paper