The Ultimate Christmas Cookie

We first ran this recipe in December 2004 when Master Baker Steve James was the executive pastry chef at The Balsams. This classic favorite is soft on the inside, yet crispy on the outside.

Once you have made the recipe, you can freeze or refrigerate the dough until you are ready to roll it out.

After the cookies are baked, store in an airtight container and your cookies will keep for several weeks.

For decorating, use a flat icing made simply with powdered sugar and milk or use royal icing.

For more glitz, dust the freshly frosted cookies with edible glitter available at craft stores or dust with super-sized sugar granules before baking.

Yield: About 5 dozen (3-inch) cookies


2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons corn syrup
2 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons baking powder


Cream all of the first five ingredients until smooth. Add eggs in two stages, scraping the bowl often.

Add cream and vanilla and mix slightly. Sift the cake four and baking powder and add to the mix. Do not overmix. Just as soon as the mixture comes together, shut the mixer off. The dough is ready.

Chill dough overnight. Roll cookie dough down to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes using cookie cutters of any shape. Brush top of cookies lightly with milk and sprinkle tops with sugar. If you choose to decorate with icing, leave the sugar off at this point. Bake at 385 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Do not overbake — cookies should be lightly baked.

To decorate cookies, mix 2 cups powdered sugar with a little milk and mix or use the royal icing recipe below. Mixture should be thick. Color as you wish with a few drops of food coloring and put in a piping bag, and decorate after the cookies have cooled.

Royal Icing

3 level tablespoons meringue powder
3 1/2 ounces warm water
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Combine all ingredients and beat on high speed for about 8 minutes.

Keep covered with a damp cloth while using. Keeps for several weeks if stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and re-beat.

Tip: You can make confectioner’s sugar by blending granulated sugar in a blender.

Categories: Recipes