- Course: Dessert
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 39 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, vegetable shortening, and sugar until smooth and slightly lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until blended, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. The dough will be soft and smooth.
Divide the dough in half and form it into 2 smooth disks about 6 inches in diameter. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to roll without sticking but not so hard that it is difficult to roll out, about 1 hour.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Lightly flour the rolling surface and rolling pin. Unwrap one piece of dough and roll it out to about a 12-inch circle that is 3/16 inch thick. Using a 3½-to 5-inch-long cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Place the cookie cutter carefully so you can cut out as many cookies as possible from each rolling. Use a thin metal spatula to transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart. Gather together the dough scraps and set aside. Unwrap the second piece of dough and repeat the rolling and cutting process.
Gather together all of the dough scraps, forming a smooth disk, and roll and cut out the dough. If there is still quite a bit of dough remaining, gather the scraps together and roll and cut the dough once again.
Bake one sheet at a time until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned, about 14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be layered between sheets of wax paper in a tightly covered container and stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Here are my requirements for an all-purpose dough for making great cut-out cookies:
1. A dough that is easy to mix.
2. A dough that rolls out easily, is not fussy about being rolled out several times, and does not mind if little hands squish and press it a bit.
3. A dough that holds the shape of the cut-out design when baked.
4. A dough that produces a cookie that remains in good condition for a week or more and can successfully travel to faraway friends and family.
To make snowmen, cut out about a 3-inch circle for the body and a 2-inch circle for the head. Slightly overlap the 2 circles for each snowman on the baking sheets and press them together. Decorate with the Powdered Sugar Frosting.
Choices and decorations: The basic dough can be flavored with 1 teaspoon finely grated orange, lemon, or lime zest, 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger, or 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon. The ingredients can be doubled to make a larger batch of cookies.
Colored sugars or nonpareils can be sprinkled on the cookies before baking. Or the cooled cookies can be frosted with Powdered Sugar Frosting and decorated with colored sprinkles or nonpareils. About 2 tablespoons colored sugar, sprinkles, or nonpareils will decorate 24 cookies. The cookies can also be half-dipped in melted chocolate, or melted chocolate can be drizzled over them.
Nutritional information is based on a serving size of 1 cookie.