Decorated Christmas Cookies

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Eric, Gigi and I are celebrating Christmas in Jackson, Wyoming this year.  If you’ve read this blog for awhile, then you probably know that Jackson is one of our favorite places in the world, so we are excited to introduce Gigi to all of the things that make it so wonderful.  Eric is certain that she will be the next great addition to the U.S. Women’s Ski Team, but I’ve convinced him that 2 months is probably a tad too young to start her training on he local slopes.  Maybe next year.

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

After my last post, one of my long-time readers, Karen (hi Karen!!), reminded me that I hadn’t posted any pictures or details about our baby since she was born.  I guess I had forgotten to post anything here since I had posted multiple photos just about everywhere else….Facebook, Instagram, etc.  I’ve been forgetting a lot of things these days.  Must be that whole lack-of-sleep thing. Yawn.  

So…….here she is:  Genevieve June Hession, born October 13 at 4:16 pm.

DSC_4256

Cute, huh?   Not that I’m biased, or anything.  Before Gigi was born, I had scheduled a photo shoot with Studio Imprints, a local photographer, as a surprise for Eric.  I wish that I could say she was as peaceful and angelic-looking during the entire process as she is in this picture, but after two hours, multiple feedings and a few diaper changes, we finally got our photos (and I needed a double scoop of ice cream.)

photo 2 (28)

She’s now almost 2-1/2 months old, and I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by.  It’s fun to watch her become more alert and active every day, and I’ve found myself doing things that I never thought I’d do, like repeatedly singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in a goofy voice to either keep her from crying or to get her to laugh for the first time.

The dogs are still unsure about this new addition to the family, but we voted and we think we’ll keep her :)

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Last week, I was up in Jackson on my own with Gigi and the dogs.  This meant that if I wanted to go into town or run errands, it took about 30 extra minutes to get out the door and the process required packing a bag of items that I might need should a meltdown occur in Aisle 9.  It also meant bundling Gigi up in her snowsuit, which made her look like Randy, the younger brother from A Christmas Story, when he screamed, “I can’t put my arms down!!!!”

Snowsuit

After a few days of exhausting outings, I thought it better–and more productive–to just stay at home.  And bake.  And decorate Christmas cookies.  After all, it might be too early to start Gigi on the ski slopes, but it’s never too early to prop her up on the kitchen counter and let her observe as I roll, cut and pipe royal icing.

In all honesty, she slept.  Apparently, I’m not all that fascinating.  Point taken, Gigi.

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Decorating cookies is always a long and somewhat tedious process.  There is a great deal of mixing, funneling, thinning, re-mixing and waiting involved. The clean up job is no party, either, especially when you are rinsing out bowls of red icing and the red-tinged water splashes up into your face and hair.  It’s not a good look.

All that said, the finished product that you present to the cookie recipient (because you would never put forth all of that effort just to eat them yourself) is well worth the effort.

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

The recipe that I used for this batch o’ beauties is the same one that I have been using for years.  The buttery cookies themselves have a vanilla-orange Creamsicle flavor, thanks to the addition of orange zest, and the royal icing is thinned out using lemon juice.  The tartness of the lemon juice helps to cut through the sugary sweetness of the icing.

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

Decorated Christmas Cookies from Peanut Butter and Julie

This was my attempt at a Buddy the Elf cookie.  Not exactly how I envisioned them, but they’ll do.

Sometimes people say that decorated sugar cookies are “too pretty to eat.”  I think they’re “too pretty to let sit around and get stale, so you eventually have to throw them out.” So go ahead — dig in.  And happy holidays :)

Find my Royal Icing recipe to pair with these sugar cookies here.

Peanut Butter and Julie's Classic Vanilla-Orange Sugar Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 24 to 40 cookies

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Peanut Butter and Julie's Classic Vanilla-Orange Sugar Cookies

The vanilla-orange flavor in this sugar cookie was inspired by the Creamsicle, one of my favorite childhood treats. Pair it with my lemony royal icing for a crowd-pleasing sweet-tart combination.

Ingredients

  • 3-1/4 cups (800 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) orange zest
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, orange zest and vanilla until well combined.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl, mixing until combined.
  4. Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide into three equal portions. Shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until cold, or up to 3 days.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F (180C), placing racks in the upper and lower thirds.
  6. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (.5 cm). Using cookie cutter, cut out shapes and carefully transfer them to 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing apart. Reroll scraps as necessary. Repeat process with more dough until both cookie sheets are full.
  7. Bake cookies for 11 to 15 minutes, switching positions of cookie sheets halfway through, until cookies are set and very lightly browned. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely before decorating.
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