Decorated sugar cookies are so pretty aren't they? I frequently see them in bakeries and cafes. The pretty colors and designs always make my older girl ooh and aah then beg and plead and most of the time she winds up not liking them. I can't blame her because neither do I. Then a few years ago I discovered this cookie. This cookie has real bona fide flavor. People like it even without the icing and that says a lot.
There are two things that make this cookie a little extra special - one the inclusion of cream cheese and the second the few drops of almond extract which give it a fresh undertone without it tasting overtly like almonds. Mind you, I don't always use the extract especially if I am taking them somewhere that is nut free and they are delicious without.
My favorite part about making these cookies was decorating them. My royal icing skills were pretty pathetic, but then youtube came to the rescue and now I love it and can't wait to try different designs and techniques!
For those of you keeping track this is now my 8th out of 10 (hopefully) posts as part of the South Asian Blogger Networks two week blogging challenge! I see more and more of you are coming back here and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU!
Cream Cheese Cut-Out Cookies
Makes 2 dozen
Based on this recipe
1 cup room temp butter
3 ounces room temp cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
¾ tsp vanilla extract
a few drops of almond extract, ⅛ tsp
2 ½ cups flour
For decorating (optional): one bag royal icing mix, food coloring of choice.
Cream butter and cream cheese till well combined. Add sugar, mix well. Add your yolk and extracts. Now add your flour in bit by bit. The dough will feel soft. Pat the dough into a ball and refrigerate for a few hours, ideally overnight. When you are ready to bake then preheat your oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Generously flour your board or work space and then roll out your dough no thinner than ⅛ of an inch thick. I like mine a little thicker. Cut into desired shapes and bake for 8-11 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown. Pull the sheet out of the oven and let the cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes before carefully moving them to a cooling rack.
Decorate as desired, if you want to use royal icing then I suggest watching this video. It is a little long but so very helpful.
If you are looking to make the kind of cookies I did then here is how you do it. Mix royal icing as per package directions for piping consistency. Pipe a white frame around your cookies and wait for it to set. Then divvy up your icing into three or four portions depending on the number of colors you want and tint it with food coloring. Don't beat too vigorously, air bubbles ain't pretty. Loosen the mixture a little (if needed) to toothpaste/flooding consistency and pipe lines out like this.
Once they are piped firmly tap the cookie against an even surface to help spread the icing and now take a skewer or toothpick and go diagonally across from the cookie to create a marbled effect. Turn the cookie 90 degrees and repeat, voila! you're an artist 😉 These are a blast to make and SO forgiving!
For the fancy version there is a tutorial posted by the talented sweetambs on youtube. Although I was inspired by her video her technique is actually different so please watch carefully if you want yours to turn out like hers. Just remember whatever happens to have some fun with it!