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12 Days of Christmas: Sugar Cookies With Cream Cheese Frosting

The last installment in our 12 day series of holiday treat recipes; see the bottom of this article for a complete list.

For the last installment of Patch's 12 Days of Christmas series, we bring you a recipe for sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting. These cookies, another recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, are not-too-soft, not-too-crisp, and easily cut into shapes. The cream cheese frosting adds just a hint of tang and is easy to pipe or spread.

Sugar Cookies (via Martha Stewart)
Makes about 2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. milk, or optional flavorings: 2 tbsp. rum or brandy, ½ tsp. rum extract + 1 ¾ tbsp. milk, ½ tsp. lemon extract + 1 ¾ tbsp. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; mix until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg, rum (or extract and milk, or milk), and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into two discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets, or line with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. (Notes: I found that my dough did not roll very easily until I had added just a bit more flour, then kneaded and warmed it a little; then it rolled out quite easily. Also, make sure you don't roll your dough too thin or you won't be able to transfer the shapes to your baking sheets).

Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut again. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

For the icing:
4 oz (half a block) cream cheese, room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. milk
4 cups confectioner's sugar
Food coloring, sprinkles, red hots, chocolate chips, etc. for decorating

Cream together cream cheese, vanilla and milk with a handmixer on medium speed, or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Gradually add in powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Portion into individual bowls and mix with desired amount of food coloring. Spread onto completely cool sugar cookies.

For a lactose-free icing option, use Martha's recipe for Royal Icing:
1 pound confectioner's sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder, or 2 large egg whites
Water

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Wondering what you missed? Here's the full list of our 12 recipes:

  • Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Thanks for reading, and happy holiday baking!

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