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Iced Sugar Cut-Out Cookies
2 h 15 m
2 h 45 m
EatingWell Test Kitchen
“This healthier sugar cut-out cookie recipe uses white whole-wheat flour, honey and lemon zest to make a delicious cookie perfect for decorating. Pull out all your cookie cutters and decorate these adorable cookies with natural decorating sugar and icing.”
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
⅔ cup white whole-wheat flour (see Tips)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup canola oil or corn oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large egg
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract or lemon extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons dried egg whites (see Tips)
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
“Holiday” red natural liquid dye (see Tips)
Green natural liquid dye (see Tips)
1To prepare cookie dough: Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Beat oil, butter, granulated sugar, egg and lemon zest in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Beat in honey, vanilla and almond (or lemon) extract until evenly incorporated.
2With the mixer on low speed, then medium speed, beat about half the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until incorporated. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.
3Divide the dough into thirds. Place one third on a 12-inch-long sheet of parchment paper and shape into a disk. Top with a second sheet of parchment. Roll the dough out between the parchment into an 8-inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Place the dough in the paper on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Freeze on the baking sheet until cold and firm, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Place another baking sheet in the freezer to chill too (it will be used under the dough as the cookies are cut out).
4To shape & bake cookies: Position a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
5Working with one portion of dough at a time, remove from the freezer and place on the chilled baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of parchment and cut out cookies with 2½- to 3-inch cookie cutters. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet with a wide, thin spatula, spacing about 1½ inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough. (If the dough gets too soft, freeze until firm again. As you cut out cookies, set aside the scraps. Shape all the scraps back into a disk and reroll between parchment. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before cutting out.)
6Bake the cookies on the center rack, one pan at a time, until browned on the bottom, 6 to 12 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool.
7To prepare icing & decorate cookies: Stir together confectioners' sugar and dried egg whites in a small bowl. Stir in water, corn syrup and vanilla (or almond) extract until smooth. Divide the icing among 3 small bowls. Add a few drops of red dye to one and green dye to another so that you have white, red and green icing.
8To pipe icing (see the candy cane cookie): Add a little more confectioners' sugar as needed to stiffen the icing for piping. Spoon each icing into a pastry bag with a writing tip or into a small plastic bag with a tiny tip of one corner snipped off. Pipe colorful designs onto the cooled cookies.
9To do "wet on wet" icing (see the Christmas tree cookie): Thin the green icing for spreading if necessary by adding a little more water. Using a small paintbrush or butter knife, paint cooled cookies with green icing. While the icing is still wet, pipe a white or red design over the green icing. Drag a toothpick through the icing to blend the colors.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the cookie dough for up to 1 day. Freeze the rolled-out dough airtight for up to 3 months. Store baked cookies airtight in a single layer for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Equipment: 2½- to 3-inch cookie cutters
White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available at large supermarkets and natural-foods stores and online at bobsredmill.com or kingarthurflour.com. Store it in the freezer.
Pasteurized dried egg whites are a wise choice in recipes that call for uncooked egg whites, like icings or meringues. Look for brands like Just Whites in the baking or natural-foods section of most supermarkets. Reconstitute according to package directions or use according to the recipe.
Find red, green and other natural liquid dyes plus a rainbow of already-dyed decorating sugars at chocolatecraftkits.com.