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Sometime along the way making and decorating rolled cookies became a family Christmas tradition. Despite that, I’ve never had a rolled cookie recipe that I really liked. They were too delicate, or didn’t hold their shape, or were just a pain to handle. For the last several years I’ve used Pilsbury Sugar Cookie Dough with mixed results.

I’m pleased to say I’ve finally found the best recipe. It’s a little crumbly to roll (just press it back together a lot), but it cuts beautifully, doesn’t spread when it cooks, takes decorating well, and tastes wonderful! I found it at the Food Network, and credit goes to Ree Dummond.

My Favorite Christmas Cookies

Cookies:

  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange or lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Egg Yolk Glaze:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 to 3 drops food coloring White

Decorative Icing:

  • One 2-pound bag confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons pasteurized egg white

Directions

For the cookies: Cream the shortening, granulated sugar20151220_202920, orange zest and vanilla thoroughly in a stand mixer for 2 minutes. Add in the egg and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 more minute. Add in the milk and mix.

Sift the dry ingredients together, then blend into the cream mixture. Divide the dough in half (thirds if you double your recipe), slightly flatten between two sheets of waxed paper and refrigerate for one hour (or freeze for 20 minutes).

Roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Transfer the shapes to lightly greased cookie sheets and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

This step is completely optional, but really pretty:  For the egg yolk glaze: While the dough is chilling, combine the egg yolk, 1 teaspoons water and food coloring. Paint the cookies with a soft brush with the glaze.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

After brushing with the glaze, bake for 6 to 7 minutes. The cookies will be slightly puffed and the glaze will look crackled. Do not allow the cookies to brown. Bake in batches, two sheets total if you don’t reroll the scraps.

For the decorative icing: While cookies are baking, mix the confectioners’ sugar, milk and egg whites. When making the white decorative icing, make sure that it is thick and somewhat retains its shape.

Remove cookies from oven to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Then, using a pastry bag or zip-top bag, pipe with white icing to decorate.

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