happy december! i love the holidays, not just for the excuse to eat a million cookies and to have bailey’s in my coffee, but also the twinkly lights, christmas trees and decorations put up all over the city, and smell of pine needles and cinnamon (and the pretty white snow when i’m home!). i think i actually love the anticipation of christmas more than the actual day itself; the dinner planning, the last minute shopping, the building excitement for my flight home to see my family and the feast of seven fishes at my nona’s house on christmas eve.
i’m also a huge sucker for holiday romantic comedies. one of my favourite things to do every weekend during december, is to post up in front of the tv and roll out and decorate big batches of cookies – gingerbread, pizzelles, sugar cookies – i’ll take any excuse to watch love actually for the 20th (ok 30th) time. i don’t care if that makes me a basic bitch – it fills my heart with warm ‘n fuzzy christmas feels and makes me laugh and cry every time.
last weekend (even though it wasn’t even december yet), i spend sunday getting in the holiday spirit and making a big batch of simple spiced sugar cookies. these cookies are the perfect thing to make while getting distracted by the trials in life and love of your favourite characters. they roll out super easily so you can make a big batch almost mindlessly while you’re giggling and rooting for the main characters to just kiss under the damn mistletoe already!
these are also perfect for gifting (i’m big on homemade gifts, especially edible ones), or for sending to your partner’s office in cute little bags (mostly because if they stay in the house a second longer, you’ll eat another 10 and regret it). just be sure to let the royal icing dry for at least 12 hours before packaging them up – or all of your beautiful decorating will be smushed!
i’m off to watch another christmas movie today while i cook – maybe elf? let me know in the comments what your faves are so i can add them to my list! happy baking!
simple spiced sugar cookies
*makes about 24
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, chilled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom, cloves, or nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
process butter in a food processor until smooth. add granulated sugar and brown sugar and process until thoroughly blended into butter, about 1 minute. add egg yolks and vanilla; process until mixture is smooth and looks glossy, about 30 seconds. add salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, baking powder, and 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour; pulse until dough comes together around the blade. turn out onto a work surface and knead a couple of times to incorporate any floury bits. divide dough in half; pat into two 1/2 inch thick disks. wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 45–60 minutes.
remove from fridge and let dough sit 5 minutes at room temperature to soften slightly.
preheat oven to 350°. working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 thick. Punch out cookies with cookie cutters and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart. gather up scraps and reroll and repeat until all dough has been used. chill cookies on baking sheets until firm, 5–10 minutes, then bake until edges are golden brown, 12–18 minutes. let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet; transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
decorate with royal icing: beat together one large egg white, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and about 2 cups confectioners sugar, until stiff (like a meringue) and of piping consistency. use to trace around the edges, then thin with a bit of water to flood icing to cover the surface.