You've Got to Try Ree's Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipe of All Time (2024)

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I don’t even know what that title means. These things just pour out of me sometimes. What I want to do now is share with you my all-time favorite, nostalgic, comfort-food, fun-to-make, low-fuss, low-brow, high calorie, non-snobby, yummy Christmas cookie of all time. They come from my mom, Gee, who used this simple but flavorful sugar cookie dough to make cookies for any occasion: Christmas, Valentines, Easter, and, my personal favorite as a child, Secretary’s Day. Some of my greatest memories were celebrating Secretary’s Day with the family, munching on our favorite cookies cut into shapes of Rolodexes and staplers. Not really.

I love these cookies. The dough is delicious, of course—what cookie dough isn’t?—but what really sets these cookies apart is the slightly unconventional method of decoration. Instead of slathering them with frosting or sprinkles after baking, the cookies are painted with a colorful egg-yolk wash before baking, which gives the finished cookie a lovely glazed appearance. Then, simple white icing is piped to fill in the blanks and to give the cookies a little extra flair. Ha! I just said “flair.”

Interestingly, the egg yolk glaze serves an added purpose: it provides a nice, mild contrast to an otherwise sweet cookie. Each bite brings you soft, sweet sugar cookie, non-sweet egg yolk glaze, and sweet powdered sugar icing. And it’ll make you smile.

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The Cast of Characters: Flour, Sugar, Salt, Baking Powder, Shortening (yes, shortening), Sugar, Eggs, Vanilla, Milk, Food Coloring, and Powdered Sugar. Ho ho ho!

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Before we measure 2/3 cup of shortening, do you guys have these “atypical” measures? I love them more than I love Coffee Haagen Dazs. Wait. No I don’t.

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Okay, NOW you can measure 2/3 cup of shortening.

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And 3/4 cup sugar. Oooh, look! Another atypical measure. Wheeeee!

I’m so easily entertained.

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Now zest a lemon. (And if you don’t have a microplane zester, you’re naked and alone in the dark.) You can also zest an orange if you don’t have a lemon available.

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And add in 1/2 teaspoon zest.

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Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and cream thoroughly.

It’s now I should tell you that I decided to double it at this point, because I’m a middle child and if one recipe is good, two is better. So I added another of everything.

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Then, since I’d doubled it, I added two eggs and 8 teaspoons milk.

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Mix until light and fluffy.

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Now, into a sifter, throw 4 cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

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Sift dry ingredients together.

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Now add dry ingredients into the mixer and mix until thoroughly combined.

Here’s the dough when it’s all mixed. Go ahead and take a bite. Say yum. Feel guilty. Now it needs to be refrigerated before rolling it out.

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I usually divide the dough into thirds: just take a third of the dough and place it on a piece of waxed paper.

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Then place a second piece on top and flatten the dough slightly. This will make it easier to roll out later.

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Wrap up the dough and place in the refrigerator for an hour before use; or, if you’re in a hurry, you can stick it in the freezer for twenty minutes.

I always use the freezer.

Now, while the dough is cooling and firming, let’s go ahead and make the egg yolk glaze:

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Just separate an egg, reserving the white.

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Place each egg yolk in a separate bowl. Just use as many yolks as you want colors with which to decorate your cookies. Huh?

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To each egg yolk, add 1 teaspoon water and stir.

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Now add a couple of drops of food coloring to each dish. I always use green, of course. Blip…

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Blip! (Sound effects provided by Pioneer Woman.)

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Then just stir together with a fork.

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Blip!

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Now repeat with red.

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Blip-Blip-Blip! Now throw all your colors together to make some pathetic attempt at black. How does one make a black egg yolk? I’ll never know.

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But this is close enough.

I also made yellow.

Now sprinkle flour on a smooth surface.

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Remove one of your discs of dough from the fridge or freezer, and place on the floured surface.

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Now, with a rolling pen, begin rolling out the dough. I generally roll from the center, outward. But you just roll that dough however you want to, honey. I’m all about bending the rules.

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Roll it until it’s between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick. Don’t roll it out too thin or the finished cookie will be too hard and crisp. I like to keep them on the thick side. And I’ve never gotten out a ruler and measured how thick I roll my dough out, and I can’t look at this thickness and estimate how thick. So stare at it for a moment, absorb it, breathe it in. Then roll yours out this thick, too.

I’m all about precision here at The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

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Now comes the fun part! Begin pressing cookie cutters into the dough, using up as much dough as you can.

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What is the trait that allows a person to formulate the best pattern in which to cut the shapes so as to use the dough as efficiently as possible? Spatial reasoning? Intelligence? Whatever it is, I ain’t got it. But I do my best.

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Place the shapes onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Butter is fine, or a light mist of Crisco Spray with Flour works great.

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Now comes the REALLY fun part! With soft bristle brushes, begin painting on the colored glazes. Really, just make sure the bristles are very soft—watercolor brushes work really well—or the surface of the dough will get scratched and messed up.

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This is a cookie cutter I used when I was a little girl when my fingernails were bitten to a quick and my hair was stringy and unkempt. Or was that last year? Anyway, this cookie cutter has been a part of my life forever. (Thanks, Gee, for parting with it recently. You’re the best mom I ever had.) And say! That black is lookin’ pretty durn black if I do say so myself.

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Continue until all cookies are painted as desired, then bake at 375-degrees for about six minutes. IMPORTANT: Watch to make sure the cookies do not begin to brown, as they taste much better if they don’t. Six minutes is almost always just the right amount of time. Just make sure the cookies have sufficiently poufed, then take ’em out.

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Here’s what they look like when removed from the oven. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. But wait…we’re not finished yet.

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And dadgum, in all the excitement I forgot to paint the tree trunks black. But I’m not afraid to admit it to you. Because if I can’t be honest with all of you, what is there to live for?

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Now, these Santas (facing sideways, for those of you who can’t get your bearings) are okay, but I think they need a little definition. So lets make some white icing to pipe on the cookies, okay?

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I dump a bag (2 pounds) powdered sugar into a bowl…

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Add about 1/2 cup milk…

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And a couple of tablespoons egg whites. If you’re squeamish about raw egg products, you can EASILY leave this out. I don’t even know if it helps. I just like to add it for kicks.

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Mix together, then place into a pastry bag with a very fine tip OR into a Ziploc bag with a tiny hole cut into one corner. Then just begin piping white icing wherever you’d like!

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Don’t take yourself too seriously; just have fun with it.

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More Honesty: I can already tell I got this icing way too thin. When it’s right, the icing is thick enough to retain its shape as it exits the tip of the pastry bag.

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For example, in years past the Santas’ beards and fur boot trim has actually been “curly”, drying soon enough after it’s piped on to retain its shape. But I don’t let consistency of icing ruin my fun time. Because who cares what they look like as long as that cookie’s goin’ in my mouth in about three minutes? All this to say, start with 1/4 cup milk instead of 1/2. Don’t be like me.

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For the snowmen, just squeeze some icing on and spread it to cover. I haven’t yet figured out how to color an egg yolk white.

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Okay, I cheated and painted on the tree trunks after the effect, just for show. I’m all about honesty here—honesty about cheating.

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If you have little adornments, feel free to add those.

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Aren’t they darling and kitschy?

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But more than that, they’re totally delish.

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If you’re looking for a fun, easy, charming new recipe for Christmas cookies, why not give these a try?

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They might just become a part of your Christmas tradition like they did mine so very many years ago. How many years ago, you ask?

Just never you mind.

You've Got to Try Ree's Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipe of All Time (2024)
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