With visions of sugar cookies dancing in her head
“As many mince pies as you taste on Christmas, so many happy months you will have.” Old English saying
My first memories of Christmas were sugar cookies. Not the presents, not the lights or the Christmas tree, but of making sugar cookies. Mom would make the dough the night before and we would fidget with anticipation as she would tuck it into the fridge for the next morning’s festivities. That night was almost as exciting as Christmas eve.
Sugar cookies are a tradition that runs deeper than just my family. They are probably the oldest cookie in history. Sugar cookie’s predecessors were brought into Europe by the Moors, when they invaded Spain, around 700 AD. They were small, sugary cakes made with almonds and spices. The Europeans thought they were glorious. Consequently, they were quickly adapted into the European diet and then spread all over the entire world.
The humble sugar cookie sailed to America in the cookbooks of the Danish immigrants. Koeptjes, as the Danes called them, were made in great abundance at Christmas time. Americans quickly picked up on the theme and distorted the name to ……drum roll please…cookies.
Loving sugar cookies isn’t a bad thing but it could be a better thing if there was a way to make a healthier sugar cookie. I took it upon myself to bake many different improved sugar cookie recipes and hubby took it upon himself to try them all. We found some that tasted like dog biscuits (yes, we know what dog biscuits taste like) and some that were tough as a boot. It definitely made a difference if citrus zest was added. The lighter sugar cookies needed a little something to replace the fat.
This recipe was, hands down, our very favorite! Lovely texture and taste. I like a softer sugar cookie and this one is. The only draw back to this cookie is that they puff up pretty good and so therefore distort the shapes a bit, but the flavor it worth it! You may substitute orange zest, if you do not prefer lemon. Have a wonderful holiday, filled with many delicious cookies!
Light and Lemony Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Cooking light
1 cup of sugar
¼ cup of butter, softened
¼ cup of fat free cream cheese, softened
1 large fresh egg
1 tablespoon of low fat milk
½ of a lemon’s zest
1 teaspoon of excellent vanilla
2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour OR
White whole wheat flour
¼ cup of wheat germ
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt
First, play your favorite holiday music. (Very important!) Beat the sugar, butter and cream cheese with mixer till soft and fluffy, then add the egg and beat some more. Next add the milk, zest, and vanilla and mix till well blended.
In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together with a wire whisk till happily combined. Add the dry ingredients together with the sugary ingredients and stir together, by hand or blender, till the dough is well formed and smiling at you. Tuck the dough into a zip lock bag or airtight container, shaped into two flat disks, and stick in the fridge for a few hours or preferably overnight.
When you are ready for the magical cookie making time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Roll out one disk on a floured board or between two sheets of wax paper, till about a ¼ inch thick. Cut out cookies out with your favorite cookie cutters and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes till they are golden brown around the edges and the center is set. Don’t move the cookies for a few minutes while they set, they tend to be a bit fragile when hot. Decorate with icing and festive sprinkles.
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of low fat milk
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Stir all the above ingredients together in a small pretty bowl till well blended. If it seems a bit think, add a bit more lemon juice till you get the consistency that you want. Spread the icing on cooled cookies or squeeze through a pastry bag or a small zip lock bag, with a tiny corner cut off. Dust the cookies with your sprinkles immediately so they will stick. Ho Ho Ho!
Nutritional information if you make 20 cookies with icing; calories 125 , fat 3.5 grams, fiber, 2 grams.