Let them eat cookies.

As I write this, I am break-and-baking cookies. If you don't know what I am talking about, you are a better person than I who probably only makes cookies from scratch that are made with love.

A few winters ago, Blueprint put out an issue which included really gorgeous holiday cookies.
Even though the cookies look fussy and time consuming, the trick is that only one type of dough was used and then that dough was baked and decorated in multiple ways to create a platter of cookies that could be the centerpiece of any holiday dessert spread. And guess what, you are in luck, because I still have my copy of Blueprint (November/December 2007) so I will share the recipe with you here. (Being a packrat has its benefits).

Sugar cookies:
Makes 45 slice & bake, 100 spritz, or 30 cut out cookies.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling and cutting
sanding sugar and other decorations (optional)
confectioners's sugar glaze (optional, see next recipe)

*In a large bowl cream butter with sugar and salt until light and fluffy. And egg and beat well to combine. Mix in vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour by the half cupful until incorporated (do not over mix). Prepare dough using additional instructions. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-12 minutes.

For slice & bake cookies:
Divide dough in half and roll into 2 inch diameter logs (use wax paper to make this step easier). Roll each log in the decoration of your choice (sugar, chopped nuts). Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 2 hours. Unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch thick disks and bake.

For spritz cookies:
Add food coloring to dough if desired. Then, put dough in Spritz and press onto cookie sheet into desired shape. Bake.

For cut-out cookies:
Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and chill for 2 hours (or up to 2 days). Unwrap dough and roll out into sheets. Cut shapes out with flour dusted cookie cutters. Bake.

Confectioners' Sugar glaze:
*In a bowl, mix 1 cup confectioners' sugar to 2 tablespoons water (or more, to create a consistency that is easy to pour and spread). Tint with slight amounts of food coloring.

The best part about these cookies is how they are decorated. Cover each spritz cookie entirely with the glaze and sprinkle with granulated sugar for a wintery wonderland effect. Tint the glaze to make a colorful platter. Make sandwiches out of the cookie cut-outs and fill with chocolate or jams. Or.... if you are feeling extra ambitious, make stained glass cookies. They are easier than it looks (but more difficult than you want it to be) but I am pretty sure they will be worth the effort. All you need to do is take your cookie cut outs, cut out some simple designs, and fill with crushed up candies (peppermints make a pretty light pink glass effect). Here are some images to inspire:

Best of luck in your holiday baking!

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