Susan S. Yeske: Dining In - Recipe of the Week

The cutout decorated cookie is a Christmas favorite

Small bags of colorful Christmas cookies make a lovely small gift during the holidays. These were for sale at the Bucks County Cookie Company stand at last weekend’s Holiday Festival of Food at Carversville Christian Church.

We eat cookies all year round, but we especially love cookies at Christmas.

There is little that is more enticing during the holiday season than a plate filled with chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, gingerbread men and women, Russian tea cakes, pinwheels, seven-layer bars, thumbprints, and the many other family favorites we make each December.

Among those favorites is the cutout cookie; it’s a little more work but it adds color to every plate or tin of holiday cookies. Whether you add a few red and green sprinkles, colored sugars or take the time to frost them, they are often the prettiest of the assortment.

Cutout cookies have been around for a long time, dating back to when gingerbread was cut into holiday shapes in the 16th century. Pennsylvania is credited as the home of the modern sugar cookie that we like to cut and decorate; the buttery Nazareth Cookie can be traced back to the 1700s in Nazareth. The basic cookie dough recipe that we use today when we make decorated cookies for the holidays is very similar to the first one recorded in Nazareth.

Sugar cookie recipes are fairly easy; the key is mastering rolling out the dough and lifting the cut piece of dough onto a cookie baking pan. Once you have that down, it goes quickly.

It’s also okay to buy refrigerated cookie dough at the supermarket or to leave the cookie baking to experts like Susan Kahn, owner of the Bucks County Cookie Company in Doylestown. A regular at the Wrightstown Farmers Market as well as her shop in Doylestown, she was selling decorated cookies at last weekend’s Holiday Festival of Food at Carversville Christian Church.

Her sugar cookies, decorated with colored sugars, were a top seller for the day.

If you decide to make your own, this basic holiday cookie recipe comes from

Decorated Christmas Cutout Cookies
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Tinted frostings, colored sugars, edible glitter, nonpareils for decorating

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Chill for 1 hour or until firm.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out with Christmas cookie cutters of your choice. Using a floured spatula, transfer cookies to greased baking sheets. Bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks.

3. Decorate cookies with frosting and colored sugars.

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