holiday cut-out butter cookies

Holiday Cut-Out Butter Cookies

These holiday cut-out butter cookies are a dream to make, and they’re as delicious as they are pretty!

Servings: About 5 dozen 2-inch cookies
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus 2 hours to chill the dough

Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • 1-1/4 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with knife

For the Icing

  • 2-1/4 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk
  • Food coloring and sugar decorations, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth. Add the flour and mix on low speed until well combined. The mixture will seem dry and crumbly at first, but don't worry -- it will come together. Scrape the dough onto a work surface (if it's sticky, dust very lightly with flour). Shape into a ball and cut in half; form 2 discs, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. When you're ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator; let it soften on the countertop for 20-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Work the dough with your hands for a minute or so, until it feels soft and pliable enough to roll. Be careful not to overwork it; it should still feel cold. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough and the rolling pin with flour as well. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll to 1/8" - 3/16" thick, sprinkling more flour over and under the dough as needed so that it doesn't stick. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Use a thin metal spatula to lift the cut dough off of the counter and onto the prepared baking sheets (they can be close together; they don't spread). Re-roll and cut the dough scraps, dusting more flour as necessary so the dough doesn't stick. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until they're set and barely browned around the edges. (Note that the cook time will vary depending on the thickness and size of the cookies. And mini cookies might be done in as little as 8 minutes.)
  4. While the cookies cool, make the icing. Combine the sugar, milk, and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Stir with a spoon to make a thick but spreadable icing. If the glaze is too thin, add additional confectioners’ sugar. If it's too thick, dribble in additional milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time. (You'll know the consistency is right when a ribbon of glaze dribbled from the spoon will sit atop the glaze in the bowl briefly, before settling and disappearing. Be careful not to make it too thin, or it will drip right off the cookies and make a sticky mess.)
  5. Using a small spoon, dollop the icing on the center of the cookies and use a spoon, knife, toothpick or your finger to spread it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other sugar decorations while the icing is still wet. Allow the icing to harden before storing the cookies.
  6. Note: The cookies are best eaten within a day or two, when they are perfectly tender and crisp. They'll keep much longer stored in an airtight container, but they'll soften up.
  7. Note: The FDA no longer recommends ingesting dragées (the little silver balls I used to decorate these cookies). Read more here. Good thing there are a myriad of other decorating choices. See some options here.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The Cookie Dough can be Frozen for up to 3 Months: Shape the dough into 2 discs, wrap each securely in plastic wrap, and place them in a sealable bag. When ready to bake, remove the disks from the freezer, thaw the dough until pliable, and then proceed with recipe. To Freeze After Baking: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 82
  • Fat: 4g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Cholesterol: 12mg