Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Icebox Sugar Cookies

For me, sugar cookies are the cookie of choice when it comes to the holidays. Not that I like them any more than I like other cookies, they've just been traditional Christmas snack-fare for me since I was a kid.

In today's busy world, though, making homemade cookies, as anything other than an occasional treat, seems like a pipe dream. This recipe is a little different. It should only take you 15 minutes of actual prep time.

Icebox sugar cookies are the premier slice and bake cookie. You make logs of cookie dough and stick them in the freezer. When the mood strikes, you take out the dough, cut it and bake. This is a similar procedure to the ones you buy in the store but, these are much tastier, and probably better for you.

[When I first posted this, I doubled the recipe. I've since returned it to it's original measurements.]

Basic Icebox Sugar Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
Cooking spray

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Whip the butter at medium speed with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar, mixing until well blended. Add the vanilla and egg and blend those in as well.

Add the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon until well blended. (You can switch to the dough hooks on your hand mixer, if you have them.)

Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of wax paper, and shape into a 6 inch log. Wrap the log in wax paper, and then in a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze for at least 3 hours, until very firm. (The dough can be kept in the freezer for up to one month, but, make sure to give it an extra layer of foil for protection.)

When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the dough log from the freezer and cut into 1/4 inch slices. You may need to let it thaw very slightly, depending on how cold your freezer is. You want to be able to cut the dough with a piece dental floss or a very sharp knife.

This is a great place to get your kids involved, by the way. Give them a piece of dental floss, show them how thick you want the cookies to be, and let them go at it. Jut keep in mind that you may get some cookies of wildly different widths!

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and place the dough slices onto the tray, 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks.

Makes about 18 thin and crispy cookies.

You can ice these, if you want. I think they're yummy just the way they are, served with a hot cup of cocoa. Sprinkling them with course colored sugar crystals before cooking can be nice touch. The point is, you've got a clean canvas, here. You can decorate them any way you want to.

Tips: Too much flour will make these cookies bake up dry and crumbly. Make sure you measure the flour correctly, spooning it into a dry measuring cup and leveling it off with the flat side of a knife.

If you want to use a cookie cutter to make holiday designs, don't freeze the dough. Put it in the refrigerator, instead. Chill until slightly firm and roll out to 1/4 thickness.

Each time you slice a cookie off the log, turn the log 1/4 of the way around. This will help prevent the log from flattening out on one side as you cook them.

Next time, I'm going to show you a few flavor variations for this basic cookie.

Happy Holidays!

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