I have a beef with cut-out sugar cookies. They’re too crisp, too dry, too crumbly. Yeah, I love a plate of them covered in icing to decorate our holiday dessert buffet but I’d rather eat a hunk of my Aunt Violet’s mothball-“scented” (I’m trying to be nice here but I don’t think I’m succeeding…) fruit cake than crack a filling on a cookie candy cane.

For me, the perfect cookie is toothsome, a little cake-y–a cross between a French madelaine and one of those real buttery numbers from my corner Village bakery. If they’re made well, Jamie has to slap my hand away before I eat another “mitten” or “stocking” with my morning coffee.

What came to mind when trying to devise the perfect recipe? Why, the Snickerdoodle, of course. (If you see me on the corner of Minetta and 6th with the baby and I have a distant look in my eye, it’s because I’m pondering such important issues as Snickerdoodle dough, the perfect bottle of Nebbiolo and the real effectiveness of under-eye cream.)

The little dough balls made with just enough baking powder (to give them their “cake-iness”), rolled in cinnamon sugar and beloved by harried moms and holiday hostesses the world over were my inspiration for the *New* Holiday Sugar Cookie. Along with my sous-chef Parker (she gets really serious when she cooks, insisting on wearing her gingerbread chef’s toque), I transformed the Snickerdoodle into a roll-out, cut-out cookie.

Make these and you’ll be the hit of your holiday cookie exchange. Just be sure to roll out the dough a little thicker than you normally would. The extra dough helps in the cake-y department. Parker swears by these. Just look at that face (and those chubby upper arms)–don’t you trust her?

Snickerdoodle-esque Holiday Cut-Out Cookies

Makes 24-36, depending on size of cookie cutter

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4th cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Special equipment–holiday cookie cutters, rolling pin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl, cream butter with 1 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla and beat well.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. With the beaters on low, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined. Be careful not to overbeat. (Dough is different from batter and does not need to be whipped.)

Separate dough into 2 balls, slightly flatten and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour. (Best if made one day in advance.)

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon granulated sugar with ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.

After the dough is chilled, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Rub rolling pin with flour and dip cookie cutters in flour. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness and cut out cookies. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly puffed and the bottom of cookies are lightly golden. Collect dough scraps and continue rolling out dough and cutting cookies until no dough remains.

Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.