I don’t know anybody who doesn’t crave a certain nostalgic sweet this time of year. My mom always turns Martha Stewart during the holidays, but of all her confections, these festive cookies remain my favorite, year after year.
I never knew why I liked them so much until I grew up and realized that it was the addition of cream cheese in the dough. Then I got even older, and wanted to keep the tradition alive thousands of miles from home, finding that almond extract plus vanilla extract provides the unique flavor.
And there was one other thing: margarine. And no salt. When questioned, my mother said she found that butter makes the cookies too crumbly for the cut-outs, and margarine and cream cheese have all the salt you’ll need. So, okay, I trusted her.
The result was a soft and creamy dough that produced perfect cookie cut-outs, ready for a little sugar-crystal sparkle. This is a truly unique and wonderful twist on the classic Christmas sugar cookie. I dare you to dislike it!
Almond-scented cream cheese sugar cookies
- 3.5 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 c. margarine, softened
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 c. sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl or your mixer, beat margarine and cream cheese until combined. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and almond extracts; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight (or make ahead and freeze).
Preheat oven to 375. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to as thin as you like. Maybe a quarter inch? Thicker will be chewier. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes and place on a nongreased cookie sheet. These won’t spread much, so you can really fit a bunch. Chill the dough in between batches, so it doesn’t get too soft.
Sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar, or any decorations you like (or use frosting when baked and cooled!).
Bake for 6-8 minutes until just lightly browned at the edges – they will still be quite white. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo