Cut Out Cookie Recipe Tips: How to Perfect the Holiday Sugar Cookie

Baking cut out cookies at Christmas is a time honored family tradition in many homes. Most of us have childhood memories of helping mom or grandma flour the counter tops, roll out the dough, and choose from an assortment of holiday shaped cookie cutters. It’s true that sugar cookie cut outs are quite simple to make, with most recipes consisting of fewer than six ingredients. However, regardless of the particular recipe you choose, there are a few basic principles that should go into making any type of cut out cookie recipe. In this article, we’ll discuss a few tips that will help you perfect the art of holiday sugar cookie cut outs.

First, follow your recipe to the letter. If it specifies butter at room temp, then make sure you soften your butter well in advance. If you forget, don’t think you can simply zap it in the microwave for a minute to make up for forgetting to soften it on the counter. It’s also important not to over-mix any dough recipe containing eggs, which most sugar cookie cut out recipes do contain.

Next, make sure your dough is adequately chilled. Most problems with cut out cookies occur because they are difficult to transfer from the counter top to the baking sheet. If this is true for you, it may be because your dough isn’t cold enough. It should be chilled in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour.

Make sure you are using a good quality rolling pin, and for the best results, invest in rolling guides. These are simply rings that fit around each end of your rolling pin, ensuring that the dough will be rolled to an even thickness all over. If cut out cookies vary in thickness, which can easily happen to even the most accomplished baker if he or she isn’t using rolling guides on their pin, then they won’t bake evenly. Some cookies will come out of the oven too brown, while others will be under-baked and doughy.

Choose good quality cookie cutters. Opt for cutters made of metal as opposed to plastic, because they will hold their shape better while in use. Carefully transfer the cut out shapes to your baking sheets, making sure to leave enough space between them for some expansion in the oven. Next, call upon a little extra patience, and chill your baking sheet full of cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you put them in the oven. This may seem fussy, but this one simple step is the trick to keeping the edges distinct and baking perfect cut out cookies. Don’t skip this step, even if you’re in a hurry.

If you own an oven thermometer, pop it in your oven to be sure you have exactly the right temp before putting your baking sheet in. It’s surprising how many ovens are off by as much as 10 to 15 degrees, which can make a significant difference in how baked goods turn out. Sugar cookie cut outs are done when the surface of the cookie springs back when lightly pressed, or when the edges are just beginning to brown.

When you remove the baking sheet from the oven, set it on top of a cooling rack for a minute or two before removing the cookies themselves to a cooling rack to cool completely. To store cooled cookies, place them in an airtight container, making sure to separate each layer with a piece of wax or parchment paper so they won’t stick together.

By following these simple steps, practically any cut out cookie recipe will yield beautiful results. So whether you’ve tried baking sugar cookies before with less than stellar results, or if you are a seasoned baker who makes cut out cookies ever year, try applying these basic steps to your favorite recipe and see what happens. You may turn out your best batch of sugar cookies yet!

Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes – One Recipe with Many Variations

There are so many Christmas cookie recipes around but often so little time to bake during the busy holiday season.

The solution? A great tasting basic cookie recipe that quickly and easily turns into such a variety of easy to make Christmas treats, friends and family will think you poured over all your favorite Christmas cookie recipes.

Let’s start with the basics.

Basic Cookie Dough Recipe

1/2 cup (or 1 stick) butter (or margarine) at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the flour. Beat with an electric mixer, scraping the sides of the bowl several times, until the mixture is light and fluffy. With mixer at a low speed, add the flour gradually, beating just until everything is well blended.

Place the mixture on a baking sheet using a tablespoon measure and press down with a spoon to flatten a bit. Or roll our and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Bake at 350ºF for about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden.

This basic cookie mixture is also the base for the following cookie recipes (all baked in a preheated oven at 350ºF).

Orange Cookies

(Makes about 32)

Add 1 tablespoon of grated orange zest to the recipe. Shape into a log that is about 1 1/2″ in diameter and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Slice dough into 1/4″ thick slices. Place on cookie sheet. Cookies can be decorated with candies, rolled in colored sugar, or cut into pretty holiday shapes before baking. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Cherry Coconut Chocolate Squares

(Makes about 54 squares)

In addition to the basic dough you will need:

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups flaked coconut

1/2 cup maraschino cherries, well drained and coarsely chopped

Line a 13″x9″ baking pan with foil.

Stir cocoa powder into basic dough mixture. Press evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust looks dry.

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, almond extract and baking powder until well blended. Stir in coconut and cherries. Pour over the baked crust.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top just begins to brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Lift it out on to a cutting board using the foil ends and cut into 1 1/2″ squares. Squares can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Coconut Pineapple Cookies

(Makes about 36)

In addition to the basic dough you will need:

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1/3 cup pineapple preserves (use raspberry or apricot if you prefer)

Add 1 cup of the flaked coconut to the basic dough mixture and mix well. Shape the dough into 1 1/2″ balls and roll in the remaining coconut to coat them. Place the balls 1″ apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Make a deep indentation in the center of each cookie with your fingertip.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookie is firm and the coconut is lightly toasted. When cooled, fill each hole in the center of the cookies with the preserves.

You can vary this basic dough to make a wide variety of Christmas cookie recipes. Add other flavorings like maple, ginger or cinnamon. Add chopped dried fruits like apricots or dates. Or bake them plain in holiday shapes and decorate with colored icing.

Christmas is such a wonderful time of year. Here’s hoping these quick and easy Christmas cookie recipes help keep the pressure off the cook.

Healthy Cookie Recipes – Vegan and Gluten Free

Vegan cookies, gluten-free cookies, wheat-free cookies…healthy cookie recipes are easy to make if you are willing to experiment with a few alternative quality ingredients. Agave nectar is the perfect sweetener for such baked treats. Not only because of its superiority to refined sugars, but also for its moisture-retaining qualities.

Healthy Cookie Recipes Can Be Made Without Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Or Milk!

Let’s start with a solid base of ground nuts. We can use whatever fits best our personal preferences and budget. Pecans tend to be a bit more expensive than almonds and hazelnuts (filberts), walnuts are often on sale or available at a less expensive regular price. Always buy bulk, and halves and pieces are just fine. No need to get whole nuts since we ground them up anyway.

A good cookie recipe should include some fat. As we want to keep this healthy, nutritious, and acceptable for vegans, let’s forget about the butter and choose instead almond, cashew, or peanut butter, or a combination thereof. If you don’t like the flavor or price of nut butters, substitute with organic canola oil.

Great, but what about the flour if we want to make gluten-free cookies? The answer is: organic brown rice flour! Works like a charm and is much healthier than white flour.

Next up: which sweetener? As stated above, agave nectar is a great sweetener for baked goods. Similar to honey, it helps retain the moisture in cookies and cakes. It also blends quickly and easily with all other ingredients for a well-mixed batter.

To add flavor to this basic healthy cookie mix, use some vanilla or almond extract, ground cinnamon, crushed anise seeds, and a pinch of salt, of course.

And to add even more nutritional value, consider lightly toasted rolled oats, raisins, sesame seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. My goodness…what to do with all that energy?

Why This Is An Easy Healthy Cookie Recipe For Vegan Cookies And Gluten-Free Cookies

We don’t really need a recipe for these incredible power morsels of nutrition. It all depends on what we have on hand, or what we like to eat, or what we want to buy. Here is a simple recipe template utilizing the ingredients discussed above:

  • 4 cups ground nuts
  • 1 cup nut butter or 1/2 cup organic canola oil
  • 1 cup organic brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cups agave nectar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds, cardamom, or other spices
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/2 cup each raisins or toasted oats or seeds

The individual ingredient quantities don’t really matter that much. The template is just a general guide line. Our goal is to mix a batter that holds its shape when divided into cookie-size balls. We might have to add a little water if the mix is too dry and crumbly. Or, we might have to add more brown rice flour to a wet and sloppy batter.

This is the best part: As we are not using raw eggs, we can taste our cookie batter before we bake it off! Add more agave nectar if you like it sweeter, more spices or seeds, until you are happy!

Important points for the baking process!

  • Place 2-inch balls on a parchment-lined cookie pan and flatten lightly with a fork (similar to making peanut butter cookies, dip the fork in cold water before pressing it on the cookie portions)
  • Use a fairly low oven temperature: 8-10 minutes at 300-325 degrees; agave nectar browns a little faster than sugar, so keep an eye on your cookies and don’t let them get too dark on the bottom!
  • Remember, there are no raw eggs in our batter; we won’t have to bake it completely through. A lightly “under-baked” interior is wonderful!

So, be adventurous and experiment with a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, spices, and whatever you love in your gourmet vegan cookie. As long as you don’t burn them black, they will always be good eating. And because they are so healthy and nutritious, they’ll be good for you, too!