It’s the Fourth of July holiday here in the U.S. Pinterest is scrolling red, white, and blue treats faster than mosquitos bite in Minnesota. People are dyeing deviled eggs to look like flags. Facebook is smothered in photos of kids with bed head smelling of campfire and bug spray rolling out of their tents by the lake. Twitter is full of “how to take photos of fireworks” articles. T.V. stations are reporting live from parades and Independence Day events. It all alludes that everyone is with family and everyone is happy.
But that’s not necessarily the case. There are people alone this holiday. And maybe they are feeling a little blue. If you know someone who could use a little pick-me-up today, give them a call and let them know you’re thinking of them. Take them for an ice cream cone. Or invite them to watch fireworks with you tonight. Exercise your freedom to celebrate this day however you want.
Speaking of exercise. When you get back to your kitchen…
Bake the softest, richest sugar cookie you’ve ever had. It’s the recipe that has ruined all other sugar cookies for me. The secret. Well, cream cheese of course! That AND I use pure almond extract in the cookie and the icing instead of vanilla extract. The recipe is from Taste of Home. View the recipe for White Velvet Cutouts.
Cream Cheese Cookie Cutouts
- cookie cutters
- Rolling Pin
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature , 4 sticks
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract , or vanilla extract if preferred
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, NOT butter flavored
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract, or vanilla extract if preferred
- 3½ cups powdered confectioners sugar
- 4 tablespoons milk, room temperature
- food coloring
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream 2 cups (4 sticks) softened butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in egg yolks and almond extract. Gradually beat flour into creamed mixture.
- Divide dough into 4 or 5 sections, shaping each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, 2 hours or overnight.
Bake the Cookies
- Heat oven to 350°F. Bring dough to room temperature. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, or greased sheets.
- Bake until set (do NOT brown), 11-13 minutes. They will still be white, not browned. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Frost the Cookies
- In a medium bowl, beat butter, shortening and almond extract until blended.
- Beat in confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to reach spreading consistency; beat until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. May need to add a splash of milk if too thick.
- If using food coloring, separate into small dishes for as many colors as you have. Remember to keep some white if desired. Frost cookies using a small offset spatula and scatter sprinkles over frosting. Let set for a few hours before stacking between plastic wrap in a plastic container with airtight lid.
All text and images © Staci Mergenthal • Random Sweets