Tips for making delicious Christmas cookies

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This morning we are going crazy for Christmas cookies! We're going to help you get that cookie decoration just perfect.

Ben Mims is food editor of Saveur. He has tips and tricks to getting Santa's cookie platter ready.

ALMOND SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2⁄3 cup (5 oz.) plus 1⁄4 cup sugar

4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 egg, beat with 1 tbsp water, for brushing

1⁄2 cup finely chopped almonds

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350°. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and 2⁄3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add flour and salt and beat on low speed until combined. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and flatten with a rolling pin into a 13-by-10 1⁄2-inch rectangle. Brush with some egg wash and sprinkle almonds and remaining sugar. Cut into 2-by-1 3⁄4-inch rectangles, transfer to baking sheets, and bake until golden on the bottom, about 15 minutes.

http://www.saveur.com/almond-christmas-sugar-cookie-recipe

SPRINKLE COOKIES

Ingredients

1 1⁄2 cups flour, plus more

1 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder

1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

3⁄4 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

Zest of 1⁄2 lemon

1⁄2 cup multi-colored homemade or store-bought sprinkles

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Instructions

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed of a mixer until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, egg, and lemon zest, and beat until smooth; add dry ingredients, and beat until just combined. Using 2 tablespoons, portion and shape dough into 1" balls; place balls 2" apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Lightly flour the bottom of a ¼ measuring cup, and press each ball into a flat disk; chill disks for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375°. Place sprinkles in a bowl; set aside. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush tops of cookie disks with egg white and then press into sprinkles to adhere completely. Return cookies to baking sheets, and bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through cooking, until set and lightly browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Let cool before serving.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Sprinkle-Cookies

CHERRY-ALMOND STAR COOKIES

Ingredients

3 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3⁄4 cup almond paste

2 eggs

1⁄4 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp. kirsch

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Maraschino cherries

Instructions

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed of a mixer until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes; set aside. In a large bowl, beat almond paste on medium-high speed of a mixer until smooth; add 1⁄4 of the butter-sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Add remaining butter-sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until evenly combined. Add cream, kirsch, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined.

Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1⁄2" star tip, and pipe 2" mounds of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spaced 2" apart. Halve maraschino cherries, and place a cherry half over the center of each cookie; chill cookies for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375°. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through cooking, until lightly browned, about 14 minutes. Let cool before serving.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cherry-Almond-Star-Cookies

GINGERBREAD COOKIES

Ingredients

3 3⁄4 cups flour

3 tsp. ground cloves

3 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger

1 1⁄4 tsp. baking soda

11 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1⁄2 cup golden syrup or dark corn syrup

1⁄2 cup heavy cream

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and baking soda; set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup using a handheld mixer set to medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add the reserved spice mixture and the heavy cream in 3 alternating batches, beginning and ending with the spice mixture, until the dough just combines. Transfer dough to a work surface, divide in half, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350°. Unwrap 1 disk of dough and place on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 1⁄8" thickness. Cut out cookies using the cookie cutters of your choice and place cookies 2" apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, rerolling scraps.

Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until browned and set, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

To make an icing, if you like, whisk confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and egg white in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer icing to a resealable plastic bag (or a pastry bag). Snip off a bottom corner of the bag and pipe icing onto cookies in a decorative pattern.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Gingerbread-Cookies-1000078159