Dr. Gerald Keep, Annoyed Scientist, 12/3/2019
Of course there are all kinds of (lower case) “christmas cookies” but there is only one “Christmas Cookie” recipe for frosting. Well, actually there are quite a few. The one printed here is what we use to give a tough-as-nails rigid cookie suitable for painting with frosting without breaking. It doesn’t taste too bad, but I have upped the flavorants for a reason. I’ve also upped the flour because the recipe is so sticky you end up using a ton of extra flour trying to roll them out.
Cream 1 cup butter into two cups sugar. Get out all the lumps.
Add 3 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp lemon extract. Stir until the yokes are gone.
Add 8 cups flour, 1 tsp soda (no lumps), 1 tsp salt. Stir kinda well; it’s dry.
Take one cup of milk and give it a squirt of vinegar or lemon juice. Add this to the dough and now stir with loads of elbow grease until it is completely homogenous.
Sprinkle flour on a surface, take a ball of dough, kneed it on the surface with flour until the dough isn’t too sticky any more. Roll it out with a (floured!) rolling pin. Thickness is not as important as consistency, as thin sections will brown faster and get crispy before thick sections are cooked. My friend has side spacers – great idea. Cut with shaped cutters and put them on a GREASED cookie sheet (you saved the butter wrappers, right? PAM tastes nasty — better to break out more butter if you have to.)
Now is an opportunity to add bake-on type decorations like sugar sprinkles, cinnamon hearts, and little edible silver balls (or did they cause cancer or have mercury in them or something? Well, use whatever is still on the market). This is a BIG batch of cookies and you’ll gravitate towards this as the evening wears on and your back gives out. Lots of sprinkly green Christmas trees at the end….
Bake in relays, 350 degrees, until the first hint of brown appears. Can’t give you a time (10-20 minutes) as it is very sensitive to thickness. Do not overcook; they will harden up on the cooling racks. Yes, cool on a rack before trying to frost them.
Frosting is easiest to make in one big batch of white, then divvy it out in small allotments for color with food coloring. Keep the white pure! Careful! Don’t splash the food coloring, leave the spoon after stirring as it’s the best artistic tool in the drawer.
In a stand mixer, start with a stick of butter and a bunch of powdered (confectioner’s) sugar. Slowly add milk until it’s the right consistency. Oops! More powdered sugar. Oops! More milk. Work it until you get the right spreading consistency.
When you run low, you can add more milk and powdered sugar to the big white bowl to extend it. You see now that the amount of butter present isn’t too critical.
I’ve sometimes had trouble with some batches running through a nozzle on the frosting squirter. All I can think is it’s an inferior grade of powdered sugar. Maybe it would help to sift it…?
If you run out of energy to decorate, freeze them for later. We never frosted the same day that we baked, we always went straight to the freezer first.
Anyway, these make great decorative platforms, and with a good layer of frosting, they don’t taste too bad. Surely the most FUN to make as a group, if you take it easy.