Holiday Cutout Sugar Cookies

Advocate-tested recipe

Holiday Cutout Sugar Cookies

Makes 3 to 4 dozen depending on size of cookie cutter used. Adapted by Cheramie Sonnier from a recipe in “Allons Manger! Treasured Recipes From Southwest Louisiana.”

2⁄3 cup white sugar

1 stick butter, softened

2 eggs, at room temperature

21/2 cups flour

11/2 tsps. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and eggs, beating well.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture into the sugar-egg mixture, beating until blended.

3. Divide dough in half and chill for at least 4 hours before rolling out.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Roll out each portion of dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place on baking sheets.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Glaze cookies, using either Simple Cookie Glaze or Creamy Glaze, and garnish with sugar crystals or sparkling sugar. Place on racks to dry. Decorate cookies as desired with Royal Icing.

Simple Cookie Glaze

Makes 2⁄3 cup. Recipe is from King Arthur Flour. The glaze dries hard and shiny.

21/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tbls. light corn syrup

11/2 to 2 tbls. plus 1 tsp. milk

Food coloring, optional

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup and 11/2 tbls. of the milk until smooth.

2. Add food coloring if desired.

3. Spread one cookie with glaze, using a table knife or offset spatula. If it doesn’t smooth out after 1 minute, dribble in additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze reaches the right consistency.

Creamy Glaze

Makes 11⁄3 cups. Recipe is from Betty Crocker.

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbl. water or 1 to 2 tbls. milk

Whisk together all ingredients until blended and smooth.

Royal Icing

Makes 3 cups. Recipe is from King Arthur Flour.

1/4 cup meringue powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3/4 cup cool water

1. Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir slowly to allow the sugar to dissolve.

2. Mix on low speed at first, increasing to high speed over several minutes. Beat until the icing is fluffy.

3. Keep the frosting covered with damp towel and some plastic wrap until you have time to use it.

4. Divide the frosting into smaller containers and mix with food coloring for several colors.

5. To use for piping, put a tip in the bottom of a disposable pastry bag. Use a tall, heavy-bottomed glass to hold the pastry bag while you add the frosting. Take care not to fill the bag more than half full. Close the back of the pastry bag with a twist tie or spring lip, to keep the icing from backing up over your hand when you squeeze it.

Note: If you prefer, pour some of the icing in a zip-top freezer bag. Snip a tiny hole in one corner of the bag and squeeze desired designs on cookies. Also, you can use the Royal Icing to make a hard cookie glaze by thinning some of the frosting with a little more water.