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sweet treats: 
oliday sugar  cookies 
1 2

I have to confess that my favorite thing about sugar cookies has always been the decorating Ė carefully crafting a pile of jolly little gingerbread boys and girls, stars and Christmas trees, all in a rainbow of crazy colors, preferably to the accompaniment of some good Christmas tunes and a crackling fire in the fireplace. Still, for those who think cookies should taste as good as they look, this recipe produces a soft, buttery cookie that stays fresh and yummy for several days.

for the cookies

2 sticks salted butter, softened at room temperature
1 packed cup golden brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2Ĺ cups + 2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp baking powder

for the icing
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. powdered pasteurized egg whites (look in the baking products section; Just Whites is the usual brand youíll find)
3 Tbsp. water, approx.
assorted food colorings, preferably gel concentrate
(I love Wilton gel pastes, which Iíve found in a dizzying array of hues at my local Michaelís craft store)
small, clean paintbrushes, or pastry decorating bags and tips

making the cookies
1 Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until good and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then add in the flour and baking powder. Keep mixing until you have a nice uniform mixture. Transfer the dough to a clean, floured surface and gently knead for a minute or two. Split the dough into quarters, then flatten each section. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 3 hours, and up to a day.

2 When the dough has had time to chill properly, take the first chunk of dough out of the fridge and let it soften for a couple of minutes at room temperature; you want it to be firm, but not so hard that youíll strain a muscle attempting to roll it out.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F, and grease a large cookie sheet.

3 Roll out the slightly softened dough on a floured surface until itís just a bit over ľĒ thick (the thicker the cookie, the easier itíll be to keep them soft). Itís a good idea to gently lift and rotate the dough in between rolls, to keep the dough from sticking, and to flour lightly as needed.

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