Super soft and thick sugar cookies frosted with a generous layer of cream cheese buttercream! Perfect for decorating or simply slathering on a nice coat of frosting!
Of all the Christmas traditions that exist, pretty much everyone shares the same memories of baking and decorating sugar cookies with their mother, grandmother, aunt, or maybe even father–sounds like a rad dad to me! I mean, what could be more fun than rolling out dough, cutting out neat little shapes, and using pretty sprinkles and colorful icing to make edible works of art? Well, mine weren’t quite “works of art,” but I totally thought they were at the time.
While it’s definitely a fun activity to do during the holidays, I would have to say it’s a lot of work when you’re doing it by yourself, and you have about 40 cookies to decorate. By cookie #7, all creativity kinda goes out the window.
So this year, instead of the arduous rolling-cutting-and-decorating, rolling-cutting-and-decorating (repeat about 10 more times), I decided to make things a little easier on myself. Honestly, I’m kind of over reindeer cookies with deformed antlers and Santa Clauses that look more like frogs with elephantiasis. At this point in my life, all I really care about is a nice soft cookie with a thick layer of sweet frosting and gajillions of SPRINKLES!!!
So how did I get that perfect balance of softness and chewiness?
Cream cheese! Not only did it create the perfect texture, but it also seemed to heighten its buttery flavor. YUM!
And thanks to the vegetable oil, this dough is actually quite easy to work with. No sticky, gooey mess all over your hands. And no dough-chilling required either!
To add more of a contrast in flavors (I know, I totally sound like I know what I’m talking about but I really don’t), I decided to frost these babies (not real babies…) with a cream cheese buttercream.
Unlike most cream cheese frostings, which stay wet, making them difficult to wrap or stack, I was able to make one that crusts up nicely on the outside, yet isn’t hard or overly dry.
Oh, and along with vanilla and almond extract, I decided to add a little bit of this…
It doesn’t really taste like princesses, but it adds a divinely light nutty taste with subtle citrus and rich vanilla flavors. I ordered it from King Arthur Flour a while back (because I wanted to know what princesses taste like) and thought it would be the perfect addition to this buttercream. Though if you don’t have any, you can easily substitute it with more vanilla and/or almond extract!
Depending on how much you like frosting (I prefer frosting shots over vodka shots), you might want to make half of what the frosting recipe calls for. I frosted my cookies with about 2 tablespoons, which might sound like sweetness overload, but considering that the cookies weren’t that sweet on their own, the frosting brought the sweetness factor up to the perfect level.
This recipe makes about 38 medium-large cookies, which is perfect for giving as favors to friends and neighbors or taking to a cookie exchange. This week I just so happen to be participating in a fun “virtual” cookie exchange hosted by the wonderful Patience Brewster Inc. They handcraft all of their uniquely whimsical ornaments (my favorite is the Woodland Pip Snowshoe Mouse!), and I can’t get over how cute and beautifully detailed they are! They also offer other gifts and textiles, but ornaments are definitely their specialty!
Because it’s almost Christmas, I’m providing you with a short little step-by-step (day by day…anyone else remember that show?) picture tutorial! So Merry ChristmaKwanzakah and may your holiday be filled with all things butter, sugar, and MORE sugar!!! I guess peace and love are important too…
To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Add the vegetable oil, 1 cup granulated sugar, powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until fully incorporated.
Place dough balls on lined baking sheet and repeat the process until you have 6 or 7 balls spaced at least 2 inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten each dough ball to about 1/2″ thickness. It’s okay if the cookies form a rim on the edges.
Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes or until tops look dry. They should still be pale in color–no browning. Try not to overbake or you’ll end up with hard, crispy cookies. If baked properly, this is how they should look on the bottom.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Make up the frosting, and you’re ready to decorate!
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 (divided)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 16 ounces cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon Princess Cake & Cookie Flavor*
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 pounds (about 8 cups) powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Add the vegetable oil, 1 cup granulated sugar, powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until fully incorporated.
- Gradually mix flour mixture into wet ingredients until dough comes together.
- Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl. Roll dough into balls that are a little larger than golf balls. Coat ball in sugar and place on lined baking sheet. Repeat process with more dough until you have 6 or 7 balls spaced at least 2 inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten each dough ball to about 1/2" thickness. It's okay if the cookies form a rim on the edges.
- Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes or until tops look dry. They should still be pale in color--no browning. Try not to overbake or you'll end up with hard, crispy cookies. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter, shortening, cream cheese, extracts, and salt together until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until all of the sugar has been added and frosting is smooth.
- Spread buttercream onto cooled cookies and immediately add the sprinkles, if using. Allow frosting to set (dry) before stacking or covering in plastic wrap.
- *I purchased the Princess Cake & Cookie Flavor from King Arthur Flour's website, but if you don't have access to any, just substitute with more vanilla or other flavoring. *Although the buttercream hardens slightly, I wouldn't stack more than three cookies on top of each other just to ensure that the buttercream doesn't get smashed. However, a thinner layer of buttercream would allow for more stacking.
- *To set the frosted cookies more quickly, place them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- *To freeze: Freeze baked, unfrosted cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw out (about 15 minutes) before frosting and decorating. To freeze the dough, divide it into 2 or 3 batches and shape each portion into a flattened disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, place in a resealable gallon freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw, let disks sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling into balls and baking.