Amanda Rettke of Shafer, Minn., was one of the 10 winners of our first Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off with these sugar cookies:
"This recipe was groundbreaking for me in that it changed how I perceived myself in the kitchen. I am not a great cook and am still a beginning baker, but this recipe is one of those magical concoctions that can transform even the most horrific of wannabe chefs."
The festive cookies are one of the favorite holiday cookie recipes we've collected in our updated "Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookies" e-book. The cookbook now includes 65 recipes from a wide range of sources, including world-famous pastry chefs, favorite bakeries and home cooks. And check out the favorite holiday recipes we've collected in our "Los Angeles Times Holiday Handbook." The book shares more than 110 seasonal recipes to help you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.
Each book is $4.99. They are available at the Los Angeles Times bookstore for Kindle, Nook and iBooks.
Amanda's amazing sugar cookies
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus chilling time for the dough and decorating time
Servings: About 7 dozen cookies
Amanda's amazing icing
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 drop lemon juice
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon milk, more or less as desired
Food coloring, if desired
Flavored extracts, if desired
In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and corn syrup. Whisk in milk to make a thick, spreadable icing. If coloring the icing with liquid food coloring, you might want to add a little less milk as the coloring will dilute the frosting. For different flavors, add drops of vanilla, almond or lemon extract. For shinier icing, use a little more corn syrup and a little less milk. The frosting will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Amanda's amazing sugar cookies and assembly
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Amanda's amazing icing
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, until combined, then beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
2. In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly beat the flour mixture in with the butter mixture until combined to form a smooth dough.
3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or until well chilled.
4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about one-eighth inch. Cut out cookie shapes from the dough. Space the cookies about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
5. Remove from the sheets and cool completely before icing. Ice as desired.