Holiday cookies were a must when I was growing up. My mom and my stepfather are both bakers, and while she would figure out how to adapt the recipes for the kind of cookies the family liked best my stepdad would write down and store the resulting recipe. I always swore that when I moved out on my own, I’d take the recipes with me for my own family.
Unfortunately for me, we moved houses when I was 18 and lost quite a few things which included the coveted cookie recipes. Unfortunately for my parents, I ended up moving 5000+ miles around the world. After two years of searching, I found this recipe by Katrina’s Kitchen and adapted it to be more like the one I remember. It’s not as good as mama’s, but it’s close enough.
- 141g (5 oz) softened unsalted butter
- 176g (6.2 oz) granulated raw cane sugar (can sub regular sugar)
- 1 vanilla pod (1.5 tsp extract)
- 1 medium egg
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch (~1/8 tsp) sea salt
- 272g (9.6 oz) all-purpose flour (I use spelt)
- gel food colorant in red and green
- colored sugar, nonpareils, or similar sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of your mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half and scrape out the paste inside. Beat in vanilla bean paste and egg.
In a separate bowl combine baking powder and salt with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough may be stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer turn out the dough onto a countertop surface and knead until fully combined and smooth. Divide the dough and knead in a small amount of green gel colorant in one part and red gel colorant in the other until color is fully incorporated and even. Chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out the chilled dough, trim the sides straight, and place one sheet over the other. Starting from the top, roll the dough towards you like a jelly roll. Press the outside edge against the counter to seal the edge and roll the by now softened dough in sprinkles. If using colored sugar you can slice immediately; if using nonpareils or firmer sprinkles chill or freeze the dough for easier cutting.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Once the dough roll is prepared (either immediately, chilled, or frozen) use unflavored floss or a very sharp kitchen knife to slice 5mm (1/4 inch) rounds from the roll. Place on a silpat-lined baking sheet until silpat is filled (should be a dozen cookies). If the dough is chilled or frozen, allow it to thaw on the counter until softened. Bake for 6-8 minutes, depending on desired doneness.
Katrina’s recipe is simpler, but as this is a slice and bake option it can be more involved. If you don’t need the dough right away you can freeze it for up to a year! It stores beautifully in the freezer (and I suggest for stiff sprinkles you freeze it for ease of cutting) and comes out perfectly fine. Like she says, this dough doesn’t spread much and gives crips edges, and comes out soft. I added salt for flavor and it really helps.
If you don’t use sugar for some reason and want to use honey, use 255g (9 oz) of honey and reduce the butter by 2 tbsp, adding a pinch (~1/8 tsp) of baking soda to neutralize the acidity. This can be made vegan, and calculations for replacements can be found online. Cooking at 6 minutes results in a nice soft cookie, but cooking at 8 minutes or more results in a crisper cookie. It’s so delicious and the cute little sprinkles with the green and red swirl are always a hit at holiday parties or as gifts! I’ll have to adapt this recipe for regular sugar cookies, I love the soft texture and I think everyone else will too!