Category Archives: christmas

sugar cookies with shiny icing

merry christmas and happy holidays and happy new year! being home for christmas after two years away was really exciting. i absorbed a lot of christmasy things to the max, like Elf and The Santa Clause, the new holiday Michael Bublé album, ornament making/house decorating, and of course holiday baking. among the things i made with family and by  myself are lebkuchen (german gingerbread), red velvet cupcakes, chocolate fudge, kolachies and other nut cookies, and these successful sugar cookies. i say successful because normally when i make classic cookies, like sugar and chocolate chip, they some how just get hard and crunchy and homemade-looking in a sad way. my aunt gave this recipe to my family from an old betty crocker cookbook, and this was the first time i’ve tried it. sugar cookies aren’t normally in our christmas cookie lineup, but i was giving sugar cookies as a gift to my sister’s bf because i’m good at baking/possibly too much of a cheapo. but i think these are good enough that i want to make them for every holiday. the icing recipe that i found for this was only by chance. i just googled it and came across this one and thought it was interesting because of the special finish that happens. and also i’m annoyed when i make baked things pretty and then they get destroyed when i cover them or put them in tupperware. so this was perfect since the icing dries completely and is sorta shiny too. in the pictures you’ll actually see that they are not so shiny because i didn’t trust the recipe at first and expected the icing to melt if i left the cookies at room temperature. so i put them in the refrigerator the first night to protect them and the next morning the icing was still hard but all splotchy. since then they’ve been at room temperature and have been just fine, so if you decide to make these, avoid putting them in the refrigerator because you’ll really like the shininess that is supposed to happen.

cookie ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar

icing ingredients:

  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk (have more on hand to add in slowly if the mixture is too thick)
  • 2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • assorted food coloring
this recipe will make about 36 cookies, depending on your cookie cutter size


mix the powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla, almond extract and egg. stir in remaining ingredients. cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours. preheat oven to 375°. when i took the dough back out, i let it sit for about 20 minutes or so because it was too cold to roll out. if you think yours is a bit too hard too, do the same, or if not just go right ahead and begin by dividing the dough it into halves. roll out on a lightly floured surface, until the dough is about 1/4 of an inch thick. cut into shapes using cookie cutters. place on lightly greased cookie sheet. bake until edges are just barely light brown, about 7-8 minutes. remove cookies from the pan immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

for the icing, put the milk in a small or medium bowl, and then slowly whisk in the powdered sugar. if it’s thick, add in more milk at about a 1/2 tsp. at a time. whisk until smooth. if it gets too liquidy, slowly whisk in a bit more powdered sugar. you want it to be smooth and spreadable, but not watery and drippy. then whisk in the corn syrup and the almond extract until it’s smooth and glossy looking. now if you want to have different colors, separate the icing into a few bowls, and add a few drops of whatever colors you want into each bowl. i made green, red, light wintery blue, and kept one white. in the original recipe, it says you can paint the icing onto the cookies, but who has little paint brushes like that? well not me. at least not the kind that haven’t already been dipped in something inedible. i thought the recipe made actually a really great consistency because i was able to use a butter knife to spread it onto the cookies. if it’s too drippy, you may want to add more powdered sugar so you can actually spread it. unless of course you do have nice brushes to do some detail work. for me, the cookies were dry enough to be stacked after about 2 hours. on a few of them, i experimented by adding another layer of icing and this made an even better finish that actually survived the refrigeration. it’s been 4 days since i made them and although there aren’t many left, i imagine these cookies will be good at room temperature for up to a week.


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Filed under christmas, cookie, dessert, holidays, recipes, winter

tea cookies

these cookies have a very holiday taste to them. i made them first a couple of years ago when i was in college at christmas time, and gave them away as presents to friends. i made them again last december while living in germany, also for christmas. they are really delicious, but for some reason this is only the third time i’ve ever made the cookies. to me, they just fit perfectly in the holiday baking category. they look all cute and snowball-y i guess. it’s not technically the holiday season yet this year, but when i made these two weeks ago it was cold and blustery outside and i was feeling all cozy and warm and lazy inside. every time this year i get super excited for the holidays. i always try to make myself wait until after thanksgiving to break out the christmas movies and music, but i don’t think anyone can criticize me for making some festive cookies before then.

adapted from Aida Mollencamp’s recipe


2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks butter

1 c. powdered sugar, plus some extra

1 3/4 c. chopped almonds (you can use whatever kind you like)


preheat oven to 325° F (160° C). arrange the chopped nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. bake in the oven between 5-7 minutes, and then remove to cool. make sure to keep an eye on them because they will burn really quickly. in a medium bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. add sugar and continue to mix until whipped and light. add half of the toasted nuts and mix until evenly incorporated. add flour and mix until well combined. stir in remaining nuts. shape the dough into tablespoon size balls about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. bake for about 25 minutes (it’s helpful to rotate the baking sheet halfway through to get all the cookies evenly baked) and after the bottoms of the cookies should be golden brown. remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. roll the cookies in the extra powdered sugar, and then let them cool completely. now roll them again the powdered sugar. they should look extra wintery and snowy now.


Filed under autumn, christmas, cookie, holidays, recipes, winter