Holiday Baking: Snowflake Sugar Cookies
Updated: Apr 28
Spending time baking during the holidays has always been a favourite tradition of mine. I've always enjoyed becoming immersed in making tasty treats to share with people who are important to me. The first thing I ever made to gift was simple white chocolate candy cane bark (literally crushed candy cane mixed with melted white chocolate, cooled and broken into shards). I used to give this out to friends when I was 11 or 12.
I've tried my hand at homemade candies, like caramels and chocolate truffles (a recipe passed down to me from my Scottish grandmother). Something about creating edible gifts has always been one of my favourite ways to get into the holiday spirit. I don't think anything says "Christmas" quite like sugar cookies. This recipe has become a favourite of mine, one I've adapted from Better Homes & Gardens. It results in a slightly soft cookie when baked accurately, the cookies hold their shape nicely in the oven (if properly chilled first), and I really like the prominent sweet almond flavour that comes through. These cookies can be coloured by adding colourants to the dough, or baked and decorated later. So, get creative!
Sweet Almond Sugar Cookies 1 ½ unsalted butter (room temperature) 1 cup white sugar ¼ tsp baking powder 1 whole egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste 1 tsp almond extract (you could also use lemon, orange, peppermint, etc.) ½ salt 3 ½ all-purpose flour Blue spirulina powder (optional) Gold cake paint (optional) [I like these ones found here]
Begin by adding the butter to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and whip until softened. Add in the sugar and baking powder, and cream together for 1 minute. Add in the egg, vanilla, and extract. Combine and then slowly incorporate the flour until just combined.
If choosing to create the marble technique, divide the dough into three even portions. Leave one portion plain. Add one ball to the mixer and add ½ tsp of blue spirulina powder to produce a light blue. Mix until combined. Add the remaining dough portion to the mixer and add 1 ½ tsp of blue spirulina powder to produce a darker blue. To create the marble effect, take these three balls of dough and roll them into long ropes. Add the three ropes together and roll to create one big rope. Now twist the large rope, beginning to spiral the colours together. After twisting, fold the rope in half and roll out to combine. Repeat as needed to achieve the desired effect. I did three rounds of the twisting then folding in half in order to achieve the marble pattern shown. I used this technique with cookie dough after learning to do it with polymer clay, something I used to play around with a lot when I was much younger. Once finished, allow dough to chill (pop it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes or the fridge for minimum 30 minutes). Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut out desired shapes. I am in love with these dainty cookie presses: Snowflake Cookie Cutters. Be sure to allow the cut cookies to chill before baking. This is very important so as not to distort your shapes when baked. The butter in the dough needs to be chilled. Because of our lovely Canadian winter, I was able to leave my cookies outside to chill until set. If that isn't an option because you live somewhere much more hospitable, place the tray in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before baking. Bake in a 375°F oven for 6 minutes. The cookies should be firm but no colour should be on the edges. Adjust time as needed depending on the size of your cookies. Allow cookies to cool on the tray, as they are too soft to move when still warm.
After cooling, if desired, use the edible cake paint to paint golden lines that accent the marble technique you've created. If you chose to leave the cookies solid coloured, still feel free to use the gold paint to accent the cookies. If you don't have access to cake paint, you can also use edible metallic powders and add the same extract you used in the cookies to dilute the powder and make it into a liquid paint. Happy holiday baking!!! This year things will look a little different for families, but I hope your homes are still filled with some holiday cheer.