Can you believe it is 6 days til Christmas? Yeah, me either. I thank goodness we have the internet as I am a tried and true procrastinator. I always wait until the last minute to do my shopping and then I vow to never do that again. Rrrright. Never going to happen. I started early this year… on the 18th. That was only because the retail industry got together and came up with “Free Shipping Day.” I just can’t pass up free shipping. So I got free shipping AND even started early… well, for me, at least.

One thing I did do early was bake Snowflake Sugar Cookies. I saw this recipe in the December Food and Wine magazine and had to try it. It uses a different method, as you do not cream the butter like in this recipe. Unfortunately, my kitchen was crazy hot, as I was baking other cookies while I was trying to roll these out. Note to self: always roll the sugar cookies BEFORE the oven gets turned on… especially if you live in South Florida where it is 80 degrees in December. So I had to roll the dough and put in the fridge. Cut a few cookies and put in the fridge. I could only cut 3-4 cookies before the dough got too soft and wouldn’t retain the shape. What a pain in the ass! But I did get the irony that I was attempting to make snowflake cookies in a 85 degree kitchen… Not funny at the time. However, the cookies are yummy and I liked the method as it was easy and quick. If your kitchen is a normal temperature, you’ll have no problems with this cookie!

Sugar Cookie Recipe (Adapted from Dec 2008 F&W)

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Royal Icing, sprinkles, sparkles and dragées, for decorating

1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter and mix at low speed until the butter is broken up into small pieces, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the flour and butter form small clumps, about 1 minute. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and almond extract and mix at low speed until the dough comes together in a few large clumps. Pat the cookie dough into two 1/2-inch-thick disks, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate until chilled but not firm, about 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. (Alternatively, cut the dough into 3- to 4-inch shapes and, using a smaller cutter, stamp out the center of half of the cookies.) Refrigerate the cutout cookies until chilled, about 30 minutes.

3. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, until they are lightly golden around the edges; shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through for even baking. Let the sugar cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then, using a metal spatula, carefully transfer them to a rack to cool completely, about 20 minutes.

4. Decorate as desired with the Royal Icing, sprinkles, sparkles and dragées.

Makes about 4 Dozen Cookies

Royal Icing Recipe

3 large egg whites
1 1-pound box confectioners sugar, about 4 cups
1/2 tsp lemon juice or distilled white vinegar.
food coloring paste (if tinting icing)

1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg whites and confectioners sugar. Beat on the lowest speed until all the sugar is evenly moistened. Add the lemon juice, increase the speed to medium, and beat until the icing is light and fluffy, about 4 or 5 minutes.

2. Use immediately or scrape into a small bowl and place plastic wrap directly against the surface so a skin doesn’t form. If you are tinting the icing, add a drop at a time and stir. A little food coloring past goes a long way. Cover the plastic wrap with a few wet paper towels to prevent the icing from drying.