I’m participating in The Nester’s 31 Days Challenge, so for the month of October I’ll be writing each day about 31 Days of Christmas: plan a little now to enjoy it more later. You can see all of the posts here.
I’ve got another recipe to share today! Last year I tried a recipe from McCormick for Spiced Holiday Sugar Cookies and they’re really good as-is but I’ve got a few tweaks that I think make them even better. These cookies are pretty easy and while they’re called “holiday” sugar cookies, they’re really good any time of year. I even added a little pumpkin pie spice to the top to make them taste a little bit more like fall when I made them for Matt’s Dad’s birthday this Sunday.
The ingredients are pretty straight-forward:
- 2 1/3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (I recommend doubling this and using 2 tsp)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (I recommend using 1/2 cup white sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
Before you start making these, I want to warn you about 2 things – (1) The dough has to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before you can bake the cookies. (2) The recipe online says that one batch makes 6 dozen cookies, but I can only ever make about 30-36 cookies from one batch; it may be something that I’m doing wrong, but consider yourself warned.
OK, so to get started, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and set it aside. I recommend doubling up on the cinnamon to give the cookies a little bit more flavor.
The next step involves the sugar; I like using 1/2 cup white sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar instead of using all white sugar. Put the sugar and the softened butter in a large bowl (separate from the flour mixture) and beat them with an electric mixer until the dough is light and fluffy. This step always gives me the most trouble. My mixture gets light-ish, but I wouldn’t ever call it fluffy. I think it may be that I get my butter
melted too soft or it may have something to do with the brown vs. white sugar. Anyway, if you have trouble at this step too, please keep going!
Add the egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well.
Next, take the flour mixture and beat it into the bowl of wet ingredients a little bit at a time. I added my flour mixture about one giant spoonful (about 1/5 or 1/6 of the mixture) at a time until it was all mixed into the other ingredients. (For all of you black and white thinkers like me who don’t like recipes to use adjectives like “a little bit” or “gradually” – Don’t overthink this part… just add some of the flour mixture, beat it in, and add more. It all comes out ok in the end!)
Refrigerate the dough until firm – 2 hours or overnight. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, start by preheating the oven to 375°F.
The McCormick recipe then says to roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Then use cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes and place those shapes on the baking sheet.
I did try rolling out the dough and cutting shapes, like I do each time that I make these cookies. But here’s what I decide every go-round with this recipe – it’s more trouble than it’s worth. For me, it just doesn’t make the cookies yummier or more special to have them in shapes. So like a good rule-follower, I did make a lovely star and a heart -
But then I formed the rest of the dough into little balls and flattened them in the palm of my hand. So I don’t have pictures of baking sheets full of lovely-shaped cookies, but I don’t think that they look too unappetizing -
After I had my little un-baked cookies spread out on the baking sheets, I did something a little crazy. I added pumpkin pie spice! Pumpkin pie spice is actually just a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice; you can buy it pre-made or I’m sure you can find a recipe online and make some at home. I bought some last year, so I just used my fingers to grab a pinch at a time to sprinkle it onto the cookies; I used a pinch for 3-4 cookies. I think that this gave them a nice flavor!
Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes or until they’re lightly browned. Let them cool on the baking sheets a little bit before you move them.
You can see that the star and the heart lost most of their shape by the time they were done baking.
The McCormick website has a recipe for icing as well, but I generally don’t care for icing on cookies. I’m probably alone in this, but I think that icing is best left to cake, cupcakes, and the occasional Chick-Fil-A brownie. So if you want, follow the recipe on the McCormick site to whip up some icing for these cookies. I have to tell you, though, that with the tweaks I made to give them a little more flavor, I think that the cookies are just fine plain!
Like everything else in this series, I’m just sharing what works for me. These cookies with their warm spice are one of my favorites, but I’ve had to tweak them and let go of the pretty shapes and colorful icing. Maybe for you, cutting the dough into shapes and adding the icing are a special part of Christmas that you enjoy – savor that part of it then! My point is that we don’t need picture-perfect goodies this Christmas – we just need a few favorites that make us (and our tummies) happy!
Do any of y’all have favorite cookies that you make for Christmas? Do you like icing on your cookies or are you a plain-cookie person like me?
I’m linking up with Link Party Palooza (Today’s Creative Blog), Your Homebased Mom, It’s Overflowing, Inspiration Exchange, Home Stories A to Z, A Bowl Full of Lemons, 36th Avenue, Carrie This Home, and DIY Show Off.