I make these sugar cookies every year. Pretty much since I was born.

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Okay, so now that I look closer, maybe those are gingerbread cookies. What’s going on here, mom? I guess I’ll just have to say that I’ve made these every year for as long as I can remember. In the picture above, I’ve obviously consumed too much sugar to be thinking straight. (Can you guess which one I am?!)

We had the fun tradition of frosting them. This year I decided not to mess with the frosting, but try a few new things. We’ll save the frosting for when my daughter is old enough to enjoy decorating cookies.

I’ll start with the recipe and then tell you the possible variations.

Sugar Cookies

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I use freshly ground)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon extract.
3. Add milk and flour alternately until combined.
4. Chill dough until easy to handle. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Roll dough out on a well floured board or counter (for crisp cookies, roll to about 1/8” and for softer cookies roll to about 1/4”).
6. Cut with floured cutter. (For cut-outs and stained glass cookies, see below for variation #2).
7. Bake at 350*F for 6-7 minutes (for cut-outs and stained glass cookies, see below for variation #2).

(Note: This makes A LOT—feel free to halve the recipe if you’re not interested in rolling out cookies for the rest of your life. However, it does freeze well, so you could throw half of the dough in the freezer for a rainy day.)

sugar-cookies

Variation 1: Sparkly Sugar Cookies

This one is easy. Brush with milk, sprinkle with colored sugar and bake as directed in the recipe. And that’s it! Easy, sparkly, and festive. You all know I love sparkles. This was always mom’s back-up when we got tired of frosting cookies. Slightly less sweet than the frosted variation and the flavors of the dough really come through.

oreo-stuffed-sugar-cookies

Variation 2: Oreo-Stuffed Sugar Cookies

It’s my opinion that most anything is made better if you shove an Oreo in the middle. This concept has gone viral with the use of chocolate chip cookie dough, but I gave it a holiday twist. I used sugar cookie dough, holiday Oreos and some more of those sprinkles that I love so much. The genius behind the original idea is Jenny of Picky Palate, so make sure to check out her site for the technique used for this variation. Baking time will increase for these since they are so large—might take up to 20 minutes.

stained-glass-cookies

Variation 3: Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

This variation is adapted from Everyday Food magazine. Cut out your cookies in whatever shape you please, and then use a smaller cutter to cut out a shape in the center. Crush hard candies in plastic bags using a mallet or anything hard. I used Jolly Ranchers, I wanted to do green and red but they only gave me two green Jolly Ranchers in the bag I bought. Thanks a lot, Jolly Rancher people! Sprinkle crushed candies carefully into the small cut-out. I got a little messy (oh well!). Bake on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 6-7 minutes. Cool completely before removing from tray.

jolly-rancher-collage

Verdict: I love this cookie dough. The nutmeg and lemon might sound weird but they have the most delicious flavor. The stained glass cookies were pretty, but a little hard to eat since the candy hardens up in the middle. So they are visually impressive, but my least favorite variation. Consider yourself warned.
Husband’s take: Being the traditionalist that he is, he likes the first variation best. But he will always prefer a plain chocolate chip cookie. Can you blame him?
Changes I would make: None necessary! I can’t wait to come up with more fun things to do with this dough though.
Difficulty: Easy!

stained-glass-cookie-in-tree

And yes, we have a fake Christmas tree. But I love it!

 

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