Frosted Holiday Sugar Cookies

Sugar Snowflake Cookies copy

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since I’ve updated this blog. I know, I know – for shame! But hey, let’s not dwell on how lazy (or in this case, pregnant) I’ve been and just get right back to the baking, eh?

With the holiday season in full swing, and my due date only 7 weeks away, I’ve got cookies on my mind almost constantly. Craving cookies. Baking cookies. Eating cookies. Eating more cookies. Eating all.the.cookies.

And with these little beauties in the kitchen, who can blame me? These cut-out sugar cookies are the softest and most delicious I’ve ever made (or eaten), and best of all, they’re a snap to throw together for even a novice baker. While I spent a great deal of time, energy and effort on frosting and decorating these snowflakes – and admittedly made a pretty big mess in my dining room in the process, oops! – the frosting is actually easy for even the littlest of cookie decorators to mix and use. This is the perfect cookie recipe for a baking day with your kiddos any time of year!

Credit for these cookies, and for the delectable icing they’re smothered in, goes to Sally’s Baking Addiction and allrecipes.com, respectively. I’ve made this recipe on multiple occasions and have had great results each and every time!

 

FROSTED HOLIDAY SUGAR COOKIES

Yields: 18-20 cookies

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large fresh egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

To make cookies:

  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter (which should be slightly softened but not melted) until creamy and smooth – approximately 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combined, about 2 minutes, continuing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, add one tablespoon of flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Stack the pieces (with paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. (Note: Chilling is mandatory! If chilling for more than a couple of hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.)
  4. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.
  5. Bake for 8-11 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. The secret to the soft, tender centers in these cookies is underbaking; remove from the oven as soon as they look “set” and are very lightly colored around the edges. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
  6. After the cookies have cooled, frost using the instructions below. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

To make frosting:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food coloring to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush, and apply sprinkles or edible ornamentation as desired. Allow to set before eating or storing.

 

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Glühwein

Gluhwein FINAL

Apologies to my faithful blog readers (hi Mum and Dad!) – as you may have noticed, I’ve been seriously MIA for the past several weeks. The hubs and I had a very sick puppy on our hands and I couldn’t bring myself to do much of anything besides melt down over his condition every five minutes. Could you abandon this face to get creative in the kitchen? No? I didn’t think so.

IMG_8067

The great news is that our wee boy has recovered 100% – and I can get back to cooking and baking just in time for the holidays!

One of our favorite things about living in Germany, particularly during Christmastime, is the delightfully ubiquitous presence of glühwein at virtually every party, festival, and weihnachtsmarkt around the country. For those outside of the German-speaking world, glühwein is a hot beverage of [typically] red wine mulled with sugar, citrus fruit, and a variety of spices, including cinnamon, cloves, anise and vanilla. There are few things more perfect on a cold winter’s night than a mug of steaming hot glühwein, followed by mug after mug of more glühwein.

I’ve been honing this recipe for years, and my husband (a true glühwein connoisseur) says it’s the best he’s ever had. Judge for yourself – enjoy responsibly!

Note: Vary the sugar content of this recipe per your individual taste, but do not exceed 3/4 cup. Glühwein is often made with port or claret, but substitute any robust red wine you prefer.

 

GLÜHWEIN

Yields | 6 servings

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 fresh orange
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 (750ml) bottle red wine

 

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  2. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange and place in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
  3. Strain sugar-water mixture through a fine sieve to remove pulp and solids. Return strained liquid to the saucepan.
  4. Add the wine to the saucepan and heat until hot, but not simmering. Serve hot in mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses will shatter).

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes FINAL

Happy Holidays, baking gods and goddesses! It’s a shame that December is nearly half over, and I’ve only just started sharing holiday desserts. Better late than never, I suppose – and this one is a winner!

I was first introduced to Terry’s Chocolate Oranges by my dad – a man with little sweet tooth and no love of chocolate, yet strangely obsessed with the combination of orange and chocolate.  Several years ago, in an effort to find a holiday dessert the entire family could enjoy, I started tinkering with this flavor combination in a variety of desserts, including cookies, brownies, mousse, and finally, cupcakes. Gold mine! This recipe for Orange Chocolate Cupcakes is not only one of the few desserts my dad raves about, but also the most popular dessert I’ve ever made. Yes, EVER. Indulge in moderation, and enjoy!

ORANGE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Yields:  24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • Terry’s chocolate orange (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp orange extract

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line two 12-hole muffin tins with paper cups; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together dry ingredients. Add oil, coffee, and milk and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and orange extract, then beat for an additional 2 minutes (batter will be thin).
  3. Pour batter into paper cups and bake in preheated oven for 19-23 minutes (or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out cleanly). Remove cupcakes from pan and place on cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting:

  1. Stir melted butter and cocoa powder in a bowl until evenly mixed. Add confectioners’ sugar and milk; beat until smooth and easily spread. Stir in vanilla and orange extracts to taste.
  2. Frost cupcakes. To garnish, dust with Terry’s chocolate orange shavings (made using a microplane grater). Enjoy!