These Soft and Chewy Christmas Cookies Have an Ingenious Secret Ingredient

The following post was originally featured on Alexandra’s Kitchen and written by Alexandra Stafford.

There is a woman here in town who, I have no doubt, would defeat Bobby Flay in a Christmas-cookie throw down. Her name is Kelly, and I met her this past summer at a lawn-games Olympics party. After one bite of her legendary cookies, I immediately enlisted her to make a batch for a similarly themed neighborhood gathering. The cookies were the hit of the evening. (Sorry Simone.)

I’ve never asked Kelly for her recipe — I sense it’s treasured — but at one point while we were talking, she let on that cream cheese was the secret. In preparation for holiday cookie season, I did a teensy, teensy bit of research online and found this recipe, and while they’re not quite as delicious (or beautiful) as Kelly’s, they do the job — they hold their shape when baked, they’re sweet, tender, and tasty, and most important, the children love them.

More to the point, the children love making them, which I confess do not. Rolling out dough to a precise thickness, tinting icing to an un-garish hue, piping of any sort — it’s just not in my wheelhouse.

Alas. One day I hope to embrace the challenge of Christmas-cookie baking. For now, I’ll continue a newfound tradition, which requires a neighborhood child at least nine years of age, preferably one named Jane with the most adorable freckles speckling her face. Last Thursday, I handed over the rolling and cutting and decorating reigns to Jane and did my best to stay out of the way.

There was flour everywhere. There were children sitting — standing! — on the table. Not a single cookie’s thickness matched another’s. It took every ounce of restraint not to intervene. I sipped my wine and occupied myself with the dishes and sweeping and tidying. “Let it go,” I kept telling myself, “let it go.” And I did. And the cookies — despite the varying thicknesses, the several decapitated snowmen, the many wingless angels — were delicious.

This dough, I find, is best divided into four portions. I let the children tackle three that evening, and during nap time today, I spent some time with the fourth. As noted, piping and tinting are not my thing, but I can handle a simple royal icing, and I do love festive, decorative sprinkles.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I baked these cookies as part of a “calm and bright cookie night,” a virtual cookie exchange hosted by The Modern Proper.

Cream Cheese Cookie Cutouts

Ingredients

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