Soft baked cut out sugar cookies are a family favorite during the holidays! This year I added an extra special touch with the addition of peppermint and crushed candy canes and then packaged them in a festive holiday cookie decorating kit for giving!
My Mom has quite the reputation. She is know for her generosity, her love for her friends and family, her willingness to help others and her cookies, banana bread, pies and jam. Yup, while we joke Mom wasn’t the best cook (I always defend her saying she just didn’t have time to cook big dinners since she was so busy working and taking care of a house full of kids); that her baked goods were on point.
And I know what you are thinking, “it’s your Mom, you have to say that”. True, but it’s not just us. In fact, my sister, who still lives in our home town, ran into an former teacher a few years ago. The teacher who taught all of us kids in elementary school (yes, elementary!!) asked if my Mom was still making her famous banana bread and homemade jams. My sister said she broke into a grin and confirmed that our Mom was still at it.
Then some good family friends, who have a son is studying abroad; told us a few weeks ago, in one of their son’s recent emails home, that he met his new neighbors. He went on to say how the neighbor generously gave him and his roommate some banana bread, and while it was good, was not like the banana bread Mrs. H always made for them growing up!
And at Thanksgiving, my cousin was super disappointed that I made all the pies this year, not my Mom, because I didn’t make one of the pies that my Mom always made and was his favorite. My Uncle was also disappointed that I made a “non-traditional” pumpkin pie, so he ran to the store to get one Thanksgiving morning.
I love hearing these stories and I know it makes my Mom’s day too! And I think that’s where I get it. You know, the deep desire to get in the kitchen, pour my time, energy and part of my soul, into a homemade treat or succulent meal. Seeing the smile on the faces of friends, family, neighbors and even complete strangers, as they take that first bite into something I have made, is priceless. The joy that such a simple act, as sharing a homemade treat with others, is what this season is all about!
That is why I love this time of year! Yeah sure my Mom and I bake up all kinds of things year round, but during the holiday season we make extra time to be in the kitchen, so that we can spread more cheer! 🙂 One treat that we always made for Christmas was sugar cookies. While we always made tons of homemade sugar cookies and carefully decorated each one, these were never treats we gave away, just kept for our enjoyment and to leave out for Santa. Even though my Mom’s sugar cookies were, again, the best, I am sure the spotty frosting job from a bunch of young kids was a huge turn off for anyone, but of course my parents!
Unlike my Mom, I usually change things up year after year, as far as the variety of baked goods that I share with others. This year as I was making my holiday baking list, I kept wanting to add sugar cookies, since the whole process of making them evokes such happiness and peace, not only for me, but I think everyone who sees a sugar cookie! And while my Mom does make the best, I decided this year to switch up our favorite classic recipe, by making a peppermint version.
These Peppermint Sugar Cookies are so fun and festive, and are THE holiday cookie for all of us peppermint lovers! Since part of the enjoyment of making homemade treats is sharing them with others, I decided this year to switch things up and share not only a special treat, but the joy of making and decorating the cookies, since this was such a special childhood tradition. I had it in my mind to make Cookie Decorating Kits, so I headed to Walmart to grab everything that I needed. I stocked up on butter, sugar, flour, candy canes, a variety of Rubbermaid TakeAlongs products (which are super festive and come in red, green, and holiday prints) and of course some fun and festive holiday baking supplies.
In the end I created two different types of Cookie Decorating Kits. One where I put the cookie dough and frosting in Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Deep Square and then arranged the containers in a festive basket with everything my recipient would need to experience the joy of making sugar cookies- almost from scratch. My basket included holiday cookie cutters, candy canes, holiday sprinkles, a rolling pin, spatulas, spoons and a little note with baking directions. My other kit was more simple, and included already baked cookies, frosting in piping bags and candy canes, which all fit perfectly in the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Serving Rectangle. I then attached an oven mitt, filled with a few baking supplies (spatulas, spoons, etc.), with some ribbon. I absolutely loved this version of the baking kit, because it was so convenient for gifting. And if you know your gift recipient well, you could use the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Rectangle (which aren’t as deep) to gift some already decorated cookies. This would be perfect for gifting some of these cookies to co-workers or friends who don’t like to bake!
- Soft Baked Peppermint Sugar Cookies:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½-1 teaspoon peppermint extract*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Peppermint Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4½ -5 cups powdered sugar
- ½-1 teaspoon peppermint extract*
- 4-5 tablespoons whole milk
- 5-6 candy canes or 1/3 cup peppermint candies, crushed
- In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Mix in sour cream, peppermint and vanilla extracts, beating just until combined.
- In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft. Place dough in a Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Deep Square and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- After refrigeration, preheat oven to 350 degrees Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- To make cutout cookies, dust counter with flour and roll the dough to desired thickness about ¼-inch. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into desired shapes. Place the cookies on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, being careful not to over bake. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and decorating.
- While cookies are cooling, prepare buttercream frosting. In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar one cup at a time alternating with the milk, mixing until desired consistency is reached. Stir in red food coloring, if using. Fill piping bag with prepared frosting and pipe frosting onto cooled cookies. Alternatively, frosting can be spread onto cookies with a knife or offset spatula. Top frosting with crushed peppermint candies.
*Note: Add an additional peppermint extract for stronger flavor.