Happy first day of December! I am in full-swing Christmas mode over here, you guys. The interior and exterior of our house is decorated, we have Christmas-scented candles burning on the regular, and Christmas music plays pretty much non-stop. This time of year is my favorite. There are so many traditions, festivities, and just general jolly-ness to partake in.
For many, I know that one of those traditions is cookie decorating, and it's definitely one of the yummiest traditions in my book. If you are like me, a lot of the time when baking sugar cookies, your once perfect looking cookies turn into unrecognizable blobs in the oven. One of the reasons for this is the recipe. Some sugar cookie recipes are geared specifically toward making cut-out cookies while others aren't. This recipe today is definitely for your cut-out cookies as it makes wonderful looking sugar cookies that are great for decorating. I do have a couple of notes about this recipe:
- Since this recipe is a gluten free recipe, the dough is crumbly. Don't freak out when you are mixing your ingredients and they don't come together in a perfect dough ball. I usually use my hands and squeeze the dough together to help it form into a ball.
- When rolling the dough, place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom, dust with flour, and then place your dough on top (I talk about this in the tips below as well). Next, place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and then proceed to roll your dough. You will also notice that dough along the edges start to crumble - that's ok! I usually try and get a really good amount of the dough all rolled out so there is a nice firm part in the middle. If I need to come back after I have cut out a few cookies and re-roll, I do it - no biggie! Basically, don't let the crumbly dough scare you. It will definitely come together and you will get some very handsome cookies from it!
I chose to use only snowflake cookie cutters for this post, but obviously any cookie cutter will do (you can find a plethora of holiday cookie cutters here). Just make sure that all of the cookie cutters you are using are around the same size. Otherwise, some cookies may be done a lot faster than others.
For the frosting in this recipe I chose to substitute the usual vanilla extract for some chai tea concentrate from Dona Chai. Y'all. Holy. Moly. Let's just say that when I tasted this frosting I yelled "delizioso!" in an Italian accent and proceeded to basically eat a spoonful. The chai spices from the concentrate go so perfectly with the almond flavor of the sugar cookies. I just can't even. SO GOOD. I topped some of my cookies with some cinnamon which added a little extra spice and basically tasted like Christmas in my mouth.
Below you can find some extra little tips on how to make your cookies look fabulous!
COOKIE DECORATING TIPS
TURN ON CHRISTMAS MUSIC
Obviously this has nothing to do with the actual quality of your cookie decorating, but it puts you in the mood for all things Christmas. I personally love the Frank Sinatra Holiday station on Pandora. I'm listening to it as I type this and it's giving me all the warm fuzzies.
LIGHTLY FLOUR YOUR SURFACE BEFORE ROLLING
For this recipe, you don’t need a ton of flour on your surface, just lightly dust it before putting your dough down. I usually put a piece of parchment paper down first, dust it with flour, and then place my dough on top. Since the recipe has butter in it, this just keeps it from sticking.
ROLL DOUGH BETWEEN TWO SHEETS OF PARCHMENT PAPER
This helps keep your dough from sticking to your rolling pin. I place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough (as well as underneath) and simply roll on top of it. The parchment paper should come off nice and clean.
MAKE SURE YOUR COOKIES ARE A GOOD WIDTH
You want to make sure that your cookies are about 1/4 inches thick and that they have even thickness throughout the cookie. The best way to do this is to get a rolling pin that has adjustable rings on the side (I use one similar to this) so don’t have to guess if your dough is thick enough.
FREEZE BEFORE BAKING
Once my cookies are cut out, I place them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer for at least 5 minutes to make sure they are nice and solid before going into the oven. This keeps your cookies from turning into a blob in the oven!
DON'T OVER BAKE
This recipe only needs to be baked for 6-7 minutes. You want your cookies to be soft, but also hard enough so they don’t break when you are decorating.
LET COOL BEFORE DECORATING
When you first take your cookies out of the oven they will seem really soft and puffy to the touch. Letting them cool completely will make it easy to transfer them to your decorating surface and begin decorating.
USE A PIPING BAG
When you are decorating your cookies, I recommend using a piping bag (I use disposable ones like these so I can just throw them out afterwards). This gives you full control over where your icing is going and you can change out the tips to give it all kinds of different looks.
For this recipe, I chose to keep the icing white, but you can always add food coloring to get different colors. You can also dust powdered sugar or cinnamon (like I did for these cookies) for something fun.
GLUTEN FREE ALMOND SUGAR COOKIES WITH CHAI SPICED BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 2 cups Bob's Red Mill 1-1 Baking Flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg at room temperature, beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons Dona Chai chai tea concentrate
- 2 tablespoons milk or heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Whisk to combine well.
- Add the butter, egg, almond extract and vanilla to your flour mixture and mix to combine. The dough will be pretty crumbly, so you may need to squeeze it together with your hands to bring all of it together (read my notes about this in the post above).
- Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
- Cut out dough with your cookie cutter and place on a baking sheet and place baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
- Take baking sheet out of the freezer and place in preheated oven for 6-7 minutes or until set. The cookies may get very slightly golden on the outside, but they shouldn't get brown.
- Remove cookies from oven and let cool completely before decorating with buttercream frosting.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter. Beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute or until butter is smooth..
- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, and beat until combined. Repeat with 1 more cup.
- Add Dona Chai tea concentrate and milk (or heavy whipping cream) and beat until combined.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating until combined after each addition.
- Beat for about one additional minute, until frosting is smooth and fluffy.