Frosted Sugar Cookies

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We’re a week out from Christmas, and everybody is in the spirit! After a lot of general interest in the Christmas tree, lights, and shiny decorations, Gatsby has settled back into his routine — although he loves taking naps under the Christmas tree.

Frosted sugar cookies are one of my two favorite Christmas treats (and really, holidays in general — there’s never a bad time to make them). Not fancy, but always a hit.

A few random musings about sugar cookies:

1. Santa prefers his cookie with a Diet Pepsi, and a carrot for Rudolph. He’s had enough milk, thankyouverymuch. Time for a late-night caffeine jolt.

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2. Don’t waste your time with royal icing. If you don’t care about eating the end product, just impressing people with fancy, pristine works of art, knock yourself out… but the reason these cookies are so popular is that the frosting actually tastes good.

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3. I make the frosting by feel, not precise measurements. Have plenty of powdered sugar and some extra milk on hand, and adjust accordingly.

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4. They freeze well. In fact, you might even prefer them that way.

A few years back, my brother asked me to bring sugar cookies home for Christmas. He picked me up at the airport, and on the drive home started munching on the cookies. When I asked how they were, he said, “They’re okay, but they’re not crunchy. Mom’s are crunchy.” He was clearly disappointed. He had no idea he’d been eating frozen cookies all these years, and the texture changed at room temperature.

5. The best-tasting cookie is either a star or a Christmas tree shape, decorated with rainbow nonpareils. End of discussion.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Cookies from Betty Crocker; frosting my own

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on size

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, if desired
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk (or more)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cups powdered sugar (or more)

Food coloring, decorating sugars and sprinkles, as desired

In large bowl, mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375°F. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut into assorted shapes with cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 7-8 minutes or until light brown. Let cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Allow pans to cool between batches.)

In a medium bowl, cream the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and spreadable, adding more milk or powdered sugar to reach desired consistency. If desired, tint with food color. Frost and decorate.

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