*April 2014: Updated this post to include a new photo of the cookies. When it’s not Christmas time, we make these in simple circles or other shapes. They are excellent as is, but super excellent with cream cheese frosting, too!
Christmas for me doesn’t get started when the tree is up, or when the outside lights are put around the door, and that’s good because those things usually happen very late in the season in my house! So when does the Christmas spirit and all the happy that it brings start for me? When I make Christmas cookies.
Sure, cookies can be made any time of the year, but I only make butter cookies in December. They could be made in April or September or whenever, if I wanted to, but I don’t. I save this recipe for when I am ready to start celebrating Christmas. In the next two weeks I will make other cookies as well, but this recipe is the start of all my holiday baking.
What I love about this recipe is how simple it is, and delicious. It is from Land O Lakes, and they know butter, therefore using their butter cookies recipe was sure to be a winner. And for the past decade or so, it has been a winner in my house … in December.
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
In mixer, combine butter, sugar and egg. Mix until creamy.
Add orange juice and vanilla. Mix until combined.
Add flour and baking powder. Continue to mix until a nice dough forms.
Place dough in a bowl and cover dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Heat oven to 400F.
Remove dough from refrigerator.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out about 1/3 of the dough at a time. The desired thickness should be either 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch. Just make sure to keep the thickness of the cookies consistent on each cookie sheet.
Use cookie cutters to cut out the dough. At this point I place the cutout shapes onto a piece of parchment paper. Then I used colored sugars to decorate the cookies. By doing this on parchment paper, any excess sugars won’t end up on the cookie sheet. Once decorated, transfer cookies to a cookie sheet lined with additional parchment paper (or use an ungreased cookie sheet).
Bake for 6-10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
Let stand on cookie sheet for about one minute, then transfer to cooling racks. *Note: If baked on the parchment paper, it’s easily transferred over to the cooling racks, without needing to transfer each cookie individually.
*Update: In 2013 we had just made cream cheese frosting for a batch of cupcakes and had some left over. We put it on a few of the cookies. Yum! Pictures below.