Now that it’s nearly December, we’re feeling officially ready to start participating in the festivities of the season’s past. And at the very top of our list as one of the most rewarding holiday pastimes is baking (followed quickly by eating) a sweet and special treat. A chewy middle, a slightly crisp outer edge cut to perfection in all sorts of festive shapes and sizes – the sugar cookie simply can’t be beat.
Given that we’re no experts ourselves, we asked Olivia Metzger, the creative behind @livviejane and a self-taught cookie connoisseur (among many, many other talents), for her tried-and-true baking tips. Below, she shares a fun and festive sugar cookie recipe that leaves plenty of space to choose your own (decorating) adventure.
Holiday Sugar Cookies
- 2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
- 3 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
Powdered sugar icing (per color):
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- ½ tsp vanilla
- Food coloring
For the cookies:
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Place the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a stand mixer and beat for a couple minutes until fluffy.
Beat in the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest (don’t skip the lemon zest, trust me).
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Divide the dough into two balls and roll each one out on parchment paper until flat.
Place the rolled dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the cookies out of the rolled dough with a circular cookie cutter (or festive shape of your choice).
Bake 8-12 minutes depending on thickness; wait until cookies are completely cooled to decorate.
For the icing:
In a medium sized bowl, mix powdered sugar, water, and vanilla until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding ½ cup of powdered sugar to thicken or 1 tsp water to thin the icing (I prefer my icing thick enough to not run off the cookie but thin enough to apply with a plastic squeeze bottle).
Add desired food coloring and mix.
Pour the icing into a plastic squeeze bottle.
Ice the cookies by outlining the shape and then filling in.
Add cookie toppers (like the penguin, reindeer, and Santa) if desired (I used ones from the brand Wilton.) Allow icing to set for at least one hour. Enjoy!
Photos by Olivia Metzger