I don’t get a lot of pregnancy cravings (more like justifications for making poor food choices…) but when I do, they’re pretty terrible. And I don’t necessarily mean terrible as in unhealthy, I mean terrible as in being really processed. With both pregnancies, I started wanting “pistachio salad” like, immediately (total lol that it’s called a salad). I’ve been craving casseroles with cream of ___ soups that I haven’t eaten in years. Lipton flavored noodle packages sound amazing. And holiday-themed soft frosted sugar cookies have been at the top of my want list forever. As soon as I started seeing giant frosted pumpkins and snowmen, I’ve been thinking about them 24/7.
Now, I’m not going to tell you these are healthy. Surely they aren’t. But, they’re made from real ingredients without preservatives and really, they couldn’t be easier. These are definitely better than the stuff you buy at the grocery store and don’t have that fake aftertaste. There is a good amount of vanilla in this recipe, which makes them especially good (though I have no doubts a little almond extract would be great in them, too). A quick note on the vanilla—if you leave the frosting uncolored, be sure to use a clear vanilla extract if you want to keep the frosting white. I don’t have clear extract, and mine was a little off-white (not that I minded).
Zachary loved helping decorate these cookies and by some small miracle, didn’t eat anything as he was doing so. Generally, having him help with dinner just leads to him eating an entire meal off the cutting board before dinner is served. This time I told him he could help decorate, but no cookies till after dinner, and he obliged. When he got frosting on his fingers, he even asked for a napkin instead of licking it off. Weird.
We were big fans of these cookies, and I’m so glad to have finally made them. I didn’t have the time or inclination to go all out with royal icing Christmas sugar cookies this year, and these were a fabulous compromise.
I’ve had this recipe bookmaked from Hostess with the Mostess and made it from there, but later looked at Annie’s version and realized she increased the cookie recipe without increasing the frosting. So, I’m actually using her adjustments, because I definitely had a ton of leftover frosting making the recipe as-is. Plus this way you get more cookies. Win-win.
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Hostess with the Mostess
4.5 cups all purpose flour
4.5 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1.5 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
scant 1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
To make the cookies, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Place the butter and sugar in a stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, just until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture, just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for an hour or longer.
Preheat the oven to 375 and line baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Roll about 2 Tbsp. of the dough into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet, repeating with the remainder of the dough. Alternatively, you can roll the dough out and then cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or just until the edges start to turn a light golden brown, being careful not to overbake. Place the pans on cooling racks and, after a few minutes, move the cookies themselves to the racks.
To make the frosting, whisk or beat the butter, milk, and vanilla together. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is the desired consistency (if it gets too thick, add a small amount of milk). Tint with food coloring, if desired.