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Recipe for Holiday Cookies From America’s Test Kitchen

From "100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways To Make The True Essentials"

By
Photo courtesy of Americas Test Kitchen (taken by Daniel J. van Ackere)

Makes about 38 cookies

If desired, the cookies can be finished with sprinkles or other decorations immediately after glazing.

Recipe Details

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Timeline

  • 15 minutes to make cookie dough (soften butter first)
  • 30 minutes to chill cookie dough
  • 20 minutes to roll, chill, and cut out dough • 40 minutes to bake and cool cookies
  • 40 minutes to glaze cookies and let glaze dry

Essential Tools

  • Stand mixer
  • parchment paper for rolling out dough and lining rimmed baking sheets
  • Cookie cutter(s) with sharp edges

Substitutions & Variations

If you cannot find superfine sugar, process granulated sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds.

The glazed cookies are great as is, but you can dress them up in a number of ways:

  • Place decorations in the glaze while it is still soft; once the glaze dries, it will act like glue. In addition to the usual decorating options, consider cinnamon candies, crushed peppermint candies, gum drops, or mini chocolate morsels.
  • Apply dots of a different color glaze and then drag a toothpick through them to cre‐ ate a variety of patterns and designs.
  • Once the glaze has been applied, sprinkle it with colored sugar. Colored sugar is easy to make at home. Place 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar in bowl. Add about 5 drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. To ensure even color, push sugar through fine‐mesh strainer. Spread sugar in shallow dish and let it dry completely. Excess sugar can be brushed or gently shaken off when glaze is dry.

Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups (121/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (51/4 ounces) superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

For the Cookies:

  • Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, and salt at low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Beat in cream cheese and vanilla until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.
  • Knead dough by hand in bowl, 2 or 3 turns, until it forms large, cohesive mass. Transfer dough to counter and divide it into 2 even pieces. Press each piece into 4-inch disk, wrap disks in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until dough is firm but malleable, about 30 minutes. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks; defrost in refrigerator before using.)
  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll 1/8 inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper; slide rolled dough, still on parchment, onto baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.
  • Working with 1 sheet of dough at a time, peel parchment from 1 side of dough and cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters; space cookies 11/2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. (Dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and rerolled once.) let cookies cool on sheet for 3 minutes; transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

For the Glaze:

  • Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons milk together in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Add sugar and whisk until smooth, add- ing remaining 1 tablespoon milk as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread eas- ily. Using back of spoon, drizzle or spread scant teaspoon of glaze onto each cooled cookie. Allow glazed cookies to dry at least 30 minutes before serving.
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