The holiday season brings with it a sense of warmth, joy, and togetherness. And what better way to celebrate these sentiments than with a plate of freshly baked Festive Christmas Sugar Cookies? These delightful treats have been a cherished part of holiday traditions for generations, offering both a canvas for creative expression and a delicious bite of nostalgia.
Sugar cookies, in one form or another, have a long and storied history. They are believed to have originated in Europe during the Middle Ages when sugar became more accessible. However, the association of sugar cookies with Christmas is a more recent development, primarily dating back to the 18th century in America. German settlers brought the tradition of making intricate sugar cookies, known as “Pfeffernüsse” or “Peppernuts,” during the holiday season. Over time, these cookies evolved into the classic Christmas sugar cookies we know and love today.
1. Prepare Your Oven and Baking Sheets
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. This step ensures that your cookies won’t stick and will bake evenly.
2. Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Give it a gentle stir to ensure even distribution of the dry ingredients. Set this bowl aside.
3. Cream the Butter and Sugar
In another mixing bowl, cream together the room-temperature unsalted butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. This typically takes about 2-3 minutes with an electric mixer.
4. Add the Eggs and Extracts
Beat in the egg, pure vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using). Continue mixing until all the wet ingredients are well combined.
5. Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients
Gradually add the dry ingredients mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until a dough forms. Be careful not to overmix; you want the dough to just come together.
6. Roll and Cut the Dough
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Roll out each portion on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) thickness. Use your festive cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes. Carefully transfer the cut cookies to your prepared baking sheets, leaving a little space between each.
7. Bake to Perfection
Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Keep a close eye on them, as baking times can vary depending on your oven.
8. Cool and Decorate (Optional)
Once baked, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you’d like to add icing and decorations, wait until the cookies are completely cool. Mix powdered sugar with a few tablespoons of milk or water until you reach your desired icing consistency, add food coloring if desired, and use a pastry brush or piping bag to decorate your cookies.
9. Enjoy the Festive Delight
Now, it’s time to savor the fruits of your labor. These Festive Christmas Sugar Cookies are perfect for sharing with loved ones, leaving out for Santa, or simply enjoying with a warm cup of cocoa by the fireplace. They capture the essence of the holiday season in every delicious bite.
Festive Christmas Sugar Cookies have a special place in our hearts during the holiday season. As you create these delightful treats, you not only bring joy to your own home but also continue a tradition that has spanned centuries. Whether you opt for classic shapes or get creative with your decorations, these cookies are a beautiful and tasty way to celebrate the spirit of Christmas. So gather your ingredients, don your apron, and let the baking festivities begin!