For as long as I can remember, I have always preferred chocolate chip cookies to sugar cookies; however, these sugar cookies, with their super-soft texture and hint-of-cherry taste may just make me change my mind. I made these tasty treats after my aforementioned final trip to Kitchen Art, where I purchased a few cute cookie cutters that I just couldn't resist. If you are not a big fan of almond extract (which gives the cherry taste), simply leave it out of the dough and frosting (just know, you will be missing out). These will definitely be made again (and again!) in our home.
Cookie Dough (makes approximately 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on size of cutters being used)
2 sticks of butter, softened* (1 c)
1 c sugar
3 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar/angel cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract (up to 1 tsp more for a more pronounced 'cherry' flavor)
Frosting (makes 2 cups)
1 stick butter, softened* (1/2 c)
3 c powdered sugar
2 TBSP milk (whole works best)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1. For the cookie dough, cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment). Next, add in the remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. Put the dough in a container with lid and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) so that the dough can be more easily handled (skipping the chilling step will result in sticky dough that will be difficult to roll out). Wash the mixer bowl so it will be ready to prepare the frosting.
2. For the frosting, place the softened butter in the mixer bowl and beat using the wire whip attachment for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add in half of the powdered sugar, followed by 1 TBSP of the milk, then the remaining powered sugar and milk. Lastly, add in the vanilla and almond extracts. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. After the dough has chilled and you are ready to prepare the cookies, pre-heat oven to 350F, line baking sheets/baking stones with parchment paper, and remove the frosting from the refrigerator so it can soften for easier spreading/piping onto the cookies. Lightly flour a pastry mat or counter top and roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until just-set, being careful not to over-bake; remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheet for an additional 1-2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
4. Allow cookies to cool completely and then frost and decorate as desired. Enjoy!
*Note: to soften the butter, either let sit out for about two hours -or- grate using a box grater