Cutout cookies are always fun to make for the holidays. Not only do they look great when they’re finished, but they’re something that everybody can participate in making – kids and adults alike. I’ve even been to a Christmas cookie party, where the host baked up dozens of cookies, mixed up lots of icing and we all decorated our own (before eating them, of course!).
These cutout cookies have a little bit more of a holiday twist than your average recipe because there is eggnog in the cookie dough. The eggnog lends a slightly eggy/custardy flavor to the cookies, which have a good vanilla flavor to begin with. While I would usually include nutmeg in anything eggnog flavored – or eggnog itself, for that matter – I omitted it from these cookies because the coarse pieces of freshly ground nutmeg don’t look particularly attractive in the finished cookies (it looks almost like you put pepper in the cookies by mistake!). The overall eggnog flavor in the cookies is relatively subtle, but I played it up a bit substituting the milk I would ordinarily use in the frosting recipe for eggnog.
The finished cookies are sweet and soft. They hold their shape well, so they’re suitable for use with all kinds of cookie cutters, and they’re sturdy enough to decorate easily without breaking. They will keep well for a couple of days when stored in an airtight container, although if you do make them in advance be sure to let the frosting set before you store them. Alternatively, you could bake up and store the undecorated cookies the day before your family and friends come over, then have a cookie decorating party of your own – maybe with glasses of eggnog served alongside the cookies.
Soft Cutout Eggnog Cookies
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, very soft
1/2 cup prepared eggnog
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggnog, egg and extract. With the mixer on low speed or by hand, add in the flour mixture, mixing until no flour remains.
Divide dough into two pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll out to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and use a floured cookie cutter to make desired shapes. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Reroll remaining dough, chilling for a few minutes if it becomes too warm to handle easily. Repeat with second piece of dough.
Bake for 6-7 minutes at 375F, until the edges are slightly firm to the touch but cookies are not browned (The bottom of the cookies will be light brown).
Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Makes 4-5 dozen, depending on cookie cutter size.
Simple Colored Icing
4 cups confectioners sugar, divided
2 tbsp eggnog per bowl
1/2 tsp vanilla extract per bowl
white, red, green and blue food coloring
Place 1 cup of sugar in each of 4 small bowls. Add 2 tbsp eggnog, 1/2 tsp vanilla and a few drops of your desired food color to each bowl. Mix thoroughly with a fork, until smooth and a good consistency: thin for filling in large spaces and thick for making clear lines. Add extra milk if necessary.
Scrape each color into a small zip-lock plastic bag.
Snip the corner of the bag to ice cookies.