Tieghan at halfbakedharvest.com is worth a looksie. She has amazing recipes – Like this Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookie. What I really like and what really attracted me to these particular sugar cookies was her quote:
These are cookies for people who want to have fun making cookies, people who have kids or people who just want a good frickin’ cookie. The whole slice and bake thing takes the effort right out of these and saves you your sanity. And the easy delicious frosting saves you from hours of trying to create the perfect picture cookie only to come up with something that looks like an art project gone so wrong. Plus, um again, they are so good.
There you go. Delicious cookies that anybody can make and everyone will enjoy. Plus, I just LOVE her ‘secret ingredient’.
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 8 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR, 30 MINUTES
Yield: About 5 Dozen Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract* (optional)
- 2 eggs, at room temperature*
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought salted caramel sauce *(Caramel recipe in notes)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- assorted sprinkles, for decorating
- To make the cookies, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla bean, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about a full 3-5 minutes.
- Add the eggs and mix until evenly combined. Add half the flour, baking soda and salt, beating until combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until the dough forms a ball.
- Place half the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 10-inch log. Repeat with the remaining dough. Now try and make sure each log is pretty rounded and then wrap in a generous amount of tin foil. This will prevent the dough from forming a straight edge. Place the logs in the fridge for at least one hour or up to three days.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Remove one roll of dough at a time from the fridge. Unwrap the dough and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, turning the dough a quarter turn after each slice to help keep the cookies round. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. If your cookies aren’t as round as you want them to be, shape the dough with your fingers.
- Bake 8 minutes for soft cookies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining roll of dough, if desired.
- To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer) beat together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, pinch of salt and caramel, beat until combined Add the heavy cream and beat another 3 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy, add more cream to your liking.
- Frost the cooled cookies and decorate as desired. To make the shapes of your favorite christmas symbols, find some smaller Christmas cookie cutters and gently place in the center of the cookie. Sprinkle the inside of the cookie cutter with sanding sugar or sprinkles. Shake the cookie a little to help evenly distribute the sanding sugar and then remove the cookie cutter.
- Store cookies, covered for up to four days at room temperature.
*To quickly bring your eggs to room temperature, place them in a large bowl with their shells on. Cover them with warm water and let them sit 5 minutes.
**The cookie dough can also be stored in the freezer. To bake remove from the freezer and let sit on the counter for 5 minutes prior to slicing. Bake As directed.
***To quickly make you own homemade caramel, heat 1 cup granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. The caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir 6 tablespoons butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. Now very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream or full-fat canned coconut milk while whisking. The mixture will rapidly bubble and/or begin to harden. This is fine. Allow the mixture to boil for 1-2 minutes. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.