Christmas Cookies

Sugar Cutout Cookies

For those of us who grew up in an era that preceded ready-to-bake rolls of cookie dough, the activity of baking homemade sugar cookies at Christmas time was as essential to the holidays as buying presents and hanging stockings. Today, with our hectic schedules and our access to convenient shortcuts we seldom take the time to tackle this task the old-fashioned way. I think that’s a real shame. For one thing, there’s absolutely no comparison between the taste of a store bought cookie and one made from scratch. But more important, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as the process itself. When I set out to bake cookies, I like to think of myself as a conductor who taps his baton on the music stand (or in this case, taps her wooden spoon on the side of the bowl) and summons a group of individual voices into one glorious choir. And if I really want to hear angels singing, I enlist the aid of my grandchildren! Now I ask you - what sweeter music can there be?

2 C Sugar
1 C unsalted Butter, softened
1 Egg
1½ t. Vanilla
1 t. Grated Lemon Zest
4 C Flour
½ C Cream or Half & Half
1 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Salt

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg, vanilla, lemon zest and cream. Combine all but 1/2 C of the flour, baking soda and salt, and mix with wet ingredients. (Use the remaining 1/2 C flour if dough is too sticky.) Do not over-mix the dough at this point or you will end up with a bread-like texture. Form dough into a large flat round disk. Wrap in Saran Wrap and chill for at least two hours.

Divide dough into fourths. Roll each fourth out on a surface dusted with half sugar and half flour. Cut out shapes and place on a cookie sheet. Chill the sheet for ten minutes before baking. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before decorating.

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