Leaving cookies and milk out for Santa was a really big deal when my boys were little. We also had to leave a carrot for Rudolph. There was only one kind of cookie that the boys wanted to leave for Santa and that was a frosted butter cookie. Each would carefully select the perfect cookie that they knew Santa would love. Often it was the one with the most frosting and sprinkles. Funny thing is Santa ate both cookies every year – he never seemed to play favorites. We always left him a big glass of milk too. I guess the jolly old man must love frosted butter cookies as much as my boys do.
Of course, this meant that we absolutely had to make frosted butter cookies each holiday season. The recipe I have made for the past 25 years is Best Ever Butter Cookies. It is definitely a family favorite! The dough is quick to mix up, easy to handle and makes a buttery, tender cookie. I often make the dough a day or two ahead and store it in the refrigerator. That way it is ready to roll out, cut and bake the day of my family cookie bake. Then, my artistic sister and creative daughter-in-law are around to do the decorating. Although the boys no longer want to frost and decorate the cookies they still want to be a part of the taste testing! And yes, they still want the cookie with the most frosting! But then, who doesn’t when the frosting is homemade with LAND O LAKES® Butter?
To make the cookies combine the butter, sugar and egg in a large bowl.
Beat until creamy and then add the orange juice and vanilla. The orange juice adds just a hint of orange flavor once the cookies are baked and makes them extra tasty.
Continue beating until well mixed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and baking powder.
Beat until well mixed and dough is formed. Divide the dough into thirds and shape each third into a ball.
Flatten each ball of dough to about a ½-inch thick disc. Wrap each in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate until firm which takes about 2 hours. The dough can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days before baking.
When you are ready to bake the cookies heat your oven to 400°F. Generously flour a smooth clean surface like your counter top.
Work with one-third of the dough at a time and roll it out to about 1/8-inch to ¼-inch thickness. Leave the other dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Note: the thinner the dough the crispier the cookies.
Cut the dough with cookie cutters and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. I usually re-roll the scraps of dough that remain from the first round. I know the cookies won’t be quite as tender but they are still delicious.
Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. If you rolled your dough closer to 1/8-inch thick your cookies will bake more quickly. Watch them carefully as they can get too brown in a very short time. Let them stand on the cookie sheet for 1 minute after you remove them from the oven. Then remove the cookies to cooling racks. Letting them stand for 1 minute helps the cookies transport without breaking.
While the cookies are cooling completely you can mix up the yummy butter frosting. Combine the powdered sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl. Beat at low speed and gradually add enough milk to reach a spreading consistency. Go slow with the milk so the frosting doesn’t become too soft. If it does, just add a little more powdered sugar.
Feel free to tint the frosting with food coloring. I usually divide the frosting into smaller portions so I can have a number of colors. Frost and decorate the cookies any way you’d like. I am not the world’s best decorator so I’m happy to hand this off to my helpers – thanks Cindy and Amanda! Have fun and be sure to save a couple of cookies for Santa.
I’d love to hear about your favorite “Santa” cookie. And please, after you try Best Ever Butter Cookies, rate and review the recipe.
On Thursday I will show you how to make another one of my favorite holiday cookies, Raspberry Thumbprints.
Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchen for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz™ Blog.