CHRISTMAS CUTOUT COOKIES

Make an assortment of cookies from one basic refrigerator dough. Makes about 8 dozen cookies.

1 lb Butter or margarine, softened 450 mL
2 1/2 cups Sifted (icing) confectioner's sugar 625 mL
2 Large Egg 2
3 tsp Vanilla 15 mL
5 cups All purpose flour 1.250 L
1 tsp Baking soda 5 mL
1 tsp Salt 5 mL

Cream butter with icing sugar. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Combine, flour, soda and salt; blend gradually into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half (if very soft, chill briefly until easy to handle).

Shape each half into a roll about 12 inches [30 cm] long x 2 inches [5 cm] diameter. Wrap tightly in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or freeze. To freeze, overwrap with foil.

TO BAKE COOKIES
Cut chilled or partially-thawed dough into slices a little less than 1/4 inch [1 cm] thick. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in 350°F [180°C] oven until very lightly browned (8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness). Cool slightly before removing from pan, then cool completely on racks.

Note In most ovens, cookies bake best - and the underside doesn't brown too quickly - if placed on a rack just above the center of the oven.

FLAVOR VARIATION TO DOUGH RECIPE
For half recipe, use half of the following ingredients.

  • Spice: Add 3 tsp [15 mL] cinnamon and 1 tsp [5 mL] allspice to the flour.
  • Nuts: Before shaping into roll, blend in 1-1/2 cups [375 mL] chopped nuts.
  • Fruit: Before shaping into roll, blend in 1 cup [250 mL]candied cherries or peel 1/2 cup [125 mL] chopped dates, 1/2 cup [125 mL] chopped nuts.
  • Orange or Lemon: Add 3 tbsp [50 mL] grated orange or lemon rind to dry ingredients. Add 1 cup [250 mL] chopped almonds or pecans if desired.
VARIATIONS BEFORE BAKING
Press any of these toppings lightly into cookie slices on baking sheet.
  • Whole, chopped or sliced nuts
  • Candied cherries or peel or ginger
  • Chocolate chips
  • Crushed candy canes, sliced gumdrops or other candies.
VARIATIONS AFTER BAKING
  • Chocolate frosted: Melt chocolate chips, spread on cookies and top with nuts if desired.
  • Decorator frosting: To one slightly-beaten egg white add a tsp [5 mL] of almond favoring or lemon juice; blend in enough icing sugar to give right consistency.
SHAPE VARIATIONS
Chill dough until easy to handle.
  • Crescents or snowballs: Shape small pieces of dough into crescents or one inch [2 1/2 cm] balls. Roll in icing sugar after baking.
  • Cherry Surprises: Wrap small pieces of dough around whole candied cherries to form smooth balls. Roll in icing sugar after baking.
  • Chocolate logs: Shape dough into logs about 2 inches x 1/2 inch [5 cm x 1 cm]. After baking, dip ends in melted chocolate, then into finely chopped nuts.
  • Rolled Cookies: Roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. After baking, decorate as desired.
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