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Easy Christmas Cookies: Lemon Sugar Cookies and Almond Sugar Cookies

December 23, 2012

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I love cookies all year round but especially around the holidays. It’s fun to take out the Christmas tree cookie cutters and then decorate with icing and sprinkles. The only problem is cut out sugar cookies can be time consuming and we all know how crazy this time of year is. These cookies are made from sugar cookie dough but you drop them on a sheet with an ice cream scoop – no chilling the dough, rolling it out, flour all over the kitchen. These don’t have the charm of fun shapes but the flavor more than makes up for it. The little rounds look beautiful all piled up on a platter and are a delicious addition to a dessert spread for the holidays. I brought them to a birthday party last night and they were a big hit! And they taste delicious with a cup of tea or coffee for breakfast…

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Easy Lemon Sugar Cookies
adapted from Fine Cooking
yields 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Preheat the oven to 350° and position oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes (or use a large bowl and hand mixer). Scrape down the sides as needed. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until for about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Turn the mixer off just before flour is completely mixed in and finish combining with a rubber spatula or wood spoon.

Using a size 70 scoop (1 tablespoon) or two tablespoons, drop rounded balls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2″ apart. Bake two sheets at a time, rotating positions halfway through baking, for 11-14 minutes, until the edges and bottoms are golden. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Easy Almond Sugar Cookies
adapted from Fine Cooking
yields 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies

1/3 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 teaspoon table salt

Preheat the oven to 350° and position oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant and just starting to turn golden. Be careful not to let them burn! It’s better to take them off slightly early because they go from perfect to burned in no time (I speak from experience!). Remove from heat and finely chop.

Using a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes (or use a large bowl and hand mixer). Scrape down the sides as needed. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract and chopped almonds to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until for about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Turn the mixer off just before flour is completely mixed in and finish combining with a rubber spatula or wood spoon.

Using a size 70 scoop (1 tablespoon) or two tablespoons, drop rounded balls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2″ apart. Bake two sheets at a time, rotating positions halfway through baking, for 11-14 minutes, until the edges and bottoms are golden. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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