Today was Christmas cookie day at our house :). I spent a fun afternoon baking a couple of batches. I found the cutest little cookie cutters at Williams-Sonoma this year that made them extra special. They are shaped like a gingerbread man, a snowflake and a Christmas ornament, but the cool thing about them is that you can add personalized messages that press into the cookie dough design. I made some of our cookies with special inscriptions like the names of our nephews, Miro, Ivan and Zach and this website name.
I used a classic sugar cookie recipe from Cooking Light magazine that can be found at MyRecipes.com. It is a lightened version of the classic, so I followed it pretty closely. It uses less butter than most recipes as well as only egg whites with no yolks, but it has a great trick for rolling so you can get away with less fat without cracking the dough. This recipe doubles nicely if you desire. They are also good with a little icing, though I opted for plain cookies this time around to show off the cute design.
Classic Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg whites
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until fluffy. Next, beat in the vanilla and egg whites. Gradually add the flour mixture to butter mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a puck, about 4 inches across. Wrap each puck in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
Unwrap 1 dough puck at a time. Smooth the plastic wrap on your work surface, and put the dough in the middle. Add another sheet of plastic wrap on top, so the dough is surrounded on both sides. Roll the dough in between the plastic until it is about ¼ inch thick. (The plastic allows the dough to stay in one nice piece without more fat.) Chill the dough another 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375.
Remove one portion of dough from the refrigerator at a time. Remove the top sheet of plastic wrap and replace it with a sheet of parchment paper. Run the rolling pin over the parchment a couple of times to smooth the top of the dough. Remove the parchment, and using a cookie cutter, cut your dough into the shapes you desire. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on the pans for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.