I've had a busy end to 2010! The last few months included lots and lots (and lots) of travel. This means that I'm more than a little behind getting ready for Christmas. Do you know the feeling?
Even though I'm struggling to get things done, I've finally headed back into the kitchen. Starting today, I'm sharing easy recipes for holiday treats--because right now it feels like no one needs quick recipes more than I do. From now until December 24th, I'll post a recipe for an easy holiday treat. I'm kicking off the series with The Easiest Christmas Cookies Ever*
If you can make chocolate chip cookies, you can make these buttery, sugary, vanilla-y Christmas cookies. The technique is pretty much the same. You cream butter and sugar together, add an egg and then the dry ingredients.
What Makes These Cookies Special: Thanks to the butter and vanilla in the recipe, these cookies melt in your mouth. Their flavor tastes like a celebration of butter, sugar, and vanilla. Since they're rolled in powder sugar before baking, they're left with a very light glaze that's pretty special too!
How to Make Them Easier: Honestly? I can't think of anything. Since they take a little less than an hour from dough to cookie, I mix the dough and bake in one shot. However, you could always mix the dough the night before baking.
How to Modify: I love these cookies scented with vanilla extract. But vanilla isn't the only flavor that would make these cookies special. Lemon extract or peppermint extract would transform these basic butter cookies into something really special.
How to Modify Part 2: Dairy-Free? While these cookies rely on butter for their great flavor, you can substitute shortening for the butter. Bump up the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon. In addition to the flavor difference, you'll also noticed that when made with shortening, these cookies don't spread.
*And by “Ever” I mean until I find a quicker recipe next year, of course.
Like most cookie recipes this one begins by creaming together butter (or shortening) with granulated sugar. Your butter should be soft but not melted.
The egg and vanilla go in. At first the mixture will look "broken" or curdled. This is okay. Just cream it on medium-high speed until it becomes smooth. And don't forget to stop the mixer once or twice to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
The dry ingredients are added. (Pretend I have a picture of that step.) After about 45 seconds, a firm dough forms. It's almost time for cookies!
After chilling the dough for ten minutes, roll them in powdered sugar. Bake in a preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes and you'll have, you guessed it, COOKIES! ("COOKIES!" must be said in a cookie monster-like voice, of course!)
Of course, if you don't have the time to roll them in powdered sugar, skip this step. It add a pretty sugar glaze but isn't essential.