In our family we love making cookie-cutter cookies at grandma’s house. We’ve done it a couple of times when V and her cousins get together on family visits, and it’s been a success. At Thanksgiving time I prepared a gingerbread cookie dough that is very good, but I also wanted to have a sugar cookie recipe to try out.

The thing with sugar cookies is that they are sweet. Add to that the icing that goes on top and you’ve practically got a piece of candy. I wanted a sugar cookie that was lighter and less sweet. A reduced-sugar sugar cookie? Why not. With the icing on top, who’s going to really notice that the cookie is less sweet.

I found a recipe from Cooks Illustrated for a “holiday cookie” made with cream cheese. I liked that idea. So I took the recipe and made a few alterations, mainly less sugar of course, and then less butter, more cream cheese and milk. The cookies came out just fine. They were easy to roll out and cut, and the taste was good. I liked them and will use this recipe again.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar  
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, (1 stick) cut into eight 1/2-inch pieces, at cool room temperature (about 65 degrees)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
 3

10

tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

tablespoons milk

1. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla, cream cheese and milk, and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

2. Remove bowl from mixer; knead dough by hand in bowl for 2 to 3 turns to form large cohesive mass. Turn out dough onto countertop; divide in half, pat into two 4-inch disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks; defrost in refrigerator before using.)

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out 1 dough disk to even 1/8-inch thickness between 2 large sheets parchment paper; slide rolled dough on parchment onto baking sheet and chill until firm, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with second disk.

4. Working with first portion of rolled dough, cut into desired shapes using cookie cutter(s) and place shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Repeat with second portion of rolled dough. (Dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and re-rolled once.) Cool cookies on wire rack to room temperature.

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