Thanks to a variety of cutters, sugar cookies can come in all shapes and sizes.
Thanks to a variety of cutters, sugar cookies can come in all shapes and sizes.

In this season of spirit and tradition, one of my favorite holiday time activities is baking and decorating Christmas Sugar Cookies. As far back as I can remember, my mom would always make a special afternoon out of our confectionary adventure. Adventure in terms of me typically causing a powdered sugar hurricane and leaving small white handprints all over the house, Mom probably dreading the mess but happy for the holiday fun all the same.

This cookie recipe is one that has been passed down through many generations of Moms in my family, and every year I welcome that special afternoon of turning up some holiday music, rolling out dough, and getting lost in pure sugary decorating bliss.

Christmas Sugar Cookies are the perfect neighbor gift idea, and are great for sharing. Cookie cutters come in all shapes and sizes. I love to make my cookie-making day into a little party and invite friends and family over to help. Don't forget- they are also Santa's favorite treat to find by the tree, especially after an exhausting night of chimney diving and gift giving. Happy Holidays to all!

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, cubed and softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 cup powdered sugar (1 each for icing)

1-2 tsp. water

Food coloring

For cookies:

1. Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.

2. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract, and combine thoroughly

3. Sift together flour baking soda and cream of tartar, and then add to the mixing bowl. Mix well until dough forms.

4. Cover dough with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough and cut into shapes.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool, and decorate away!

For icing:

1. Stir 1-2 tsp. cold water into 1/2 c. powdered sugar, a few drops at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Stir in a drop of food coloring; a little goes a long way.

Jessica Roy is a private chef, specialty caterer and author of the foodie blog, Shiso Fresh. Follow her at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/ yourpersonalchef.