Mom always had Cookie Day when we were growing up. It was a whole day dedicated to making her sugar cookies and icing them! Her recipe for these classic Christmas cookies had to be made a day ahead so that the dough could be refrigerated before we rolled it out for cutting.
Fast forward many years when we were publishing the first anniversary issue of Southern Lady magazine. We decided that we would have snowflake-shaped cookies on the cover. I volunteered to make Mom’s recipe and share it with our readers. That evening I went by Mom’s to get the recipe. She just laughed and went to her cupboard where the cookie cutters were kept. She took down the box and tore off the lid where the recipe was printed; she just laughed and said this was her family recipe!
I left and went by the store on my way home to get the ingredients. I carried the recipe in and shopped diligently, collecting everything I needed. It was dark when I came out, and I went home to mix up the dough so it could chill overnight.
I set out all the ingredients and was all ready to start when I realized I had lost the recipe. I dumped out the contents of my purse—nothing. I call the manager of the grocery store and explained this was an emergency as I must have dropped the recipe as I was shopping. He said he would call back after he walked around the store.
When he called he said he was so sorry but had found no recipe. My heart sunk. So I did what any self-respecting desperate woman would do: I got in my car to return to the store and drove to the parking lot where I must have dropped the recipe—nothing. Since it was dark, I decided to get out of my car and walk around the area where I had parked. About that time, bright headlights were shining on me. I stopped dead in my tracks. I could hear the laughter coming from the car. It was the Minister of Music from our church and his entire family. I forgot to mention that I had on my pink fuzzy robe and fuzzy slippers. I just thought I could pull this off with no one seeing me, but I was wrong.
Not only had I embarrassed myself, but I lost the recipe. I returned home, and while I was driving all I could think of was the fact that I had single-handedly lost the family recipe. What would I do? I couldn’t tell Mom. So I called my sister and told her of my dilemma. She just laughed and told me she had written down the recipe several years ago, and she read it to me.
The photoshoot came off without a hitch, and the recipe was saved. Holiday baking is and always will be very important in our family.
Now, I’m excited to share a classic recipe for Decorate Sugar Cookies from our Christmas Cakes & Cookies special edition. I hope it brings some extra cheer to your holidays this year.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Meringue Powder Icing (recipe follows)
- Assorted nonpareils, sanding sugar, and dragées*
- 1. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- 2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
- 3. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using desired cutters, cut dough, rerolling scraps as necessary. Place cookies on prepared pans. Bake until edges are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on pans for 3 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
- 5. Decorate as desired with Meringue Powder Icing, nonpareils, sanding sugar, and dragées. Let icing dry completely. Store in airtight containers for up to 1 week.
- *We used gold sparkling sugar, green sparkling sugar, red nonpareils, and multicolored dragées.
- ¼ cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Assorted paste food coloring
- 1. In a medium bowl, beat ¼ cup cold water and meringue powder with a mixer at medium speed until frothy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Divide mixture among small bowls. Add food coloring to achieve desired colors. Paint icing onto cookies using small paintbrushes.