There is just something about traditional cut-outs that say Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Solstice, for that matter). I know I rarely make them outside the month of December, so there is something special about eating cut-outs that just make me want to dunk them in my steaming Hot Toddy.
The recipe I use — the only recipe I will use — for cut-outs is one that has been in my family for generations. It is for a single batch, but trust me, you’re going to want to double it.
Grandma’s Favorite Cut-Outs
(makes 2 dozen)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp milk mixed with 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Beat well until smooth, then add the milk/baking powder mixture.
2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda, and slowly add to other ingredients. When all the flour is incorporated, refrigerate the dough for about an hour. Note: You can refrigerate the dough up to 2 days before working with it.
4. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350° for 10 minutes. The edges should be just barely browned. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
Decorating Tips: You can do this one of two ways (which I like to refer to the easy way and the fun way): First, you can decorate with colored sugar and non-pareils. Just brush some beaten egg white on the cookies before they are baked and sprinkle on the sugar.
Or, you can choose to ice your cookies. I use a simple icing made of confectioner’s sugar and milk. This is definitely a messier option, but kids love it.