It’s Christmas Sugar Cookie Day!!

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

No really, I have been waiting for this day forever. Who couldn’t love a good sugar cookie?!?!  Crazy people that’s who.

I am currently having the problem that I only want to bake sweet things. Normally I have trouble coming up with sweet recipes, but this December I have so many that I want to make and not enough savory recipes. Like on Sunday, I set out to make two new savory dishes for you guys and they both just fell horribly flat. I think this was mostly because I wasn’t extremely excited about either recipe and I really just wanted to be baking and singing along to Christmas music.

Have I ever mentioned that I have always thought I would make the perfect Mrs. Claus? Because I have said this to my mom my whole life and now apparently I have the guts to tell all of you this. It’s because I can’t see you. Trust me, the online me is so much more daring and I guess personal. Meet me face to face and I am kind of shy. It’s better now that I am older though. As a kid, I clung to my mom’s hip like no kid you’d ever seen before.

Actually, when I was really young I wouldn’t even let my dad hold me. UGH. I was so mean, but hey, he’s pretty much my favorite person now.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Sorry, too much information for a cookie post.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

SO. You know all those picture perfect Christmas cookies that basically look like Christmas cookie perfection? Yeah, these are not them… and they are not meant to be. I have always, always wanted to make the cut-out cookies, complete with the royal icing, pretty sanding sugar and little details like Santa’s rosy cheeks. I pretty much envy the beyond talented people who can create those gorgeous cookies. BUT I have finally accepted that, one, I do not have the patience for them, and two, they will never turn out as perfect as I want them to. Plus, if I am being honest, I really only like the look of those perfectly pretty cookies, the taste? Not so awesome.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

This year, I finally decided to just give up on the perfect look and go for cute and good. Or ok, cute and delicious.

The verdict? It worked out so much better for me, and my day didn’t end with me covered in royal icing, sprinkles and crying on the floor while eating a sub-par cookie. Total upgrade.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

These are cookies for people who want to have fun making cookies, people who have kids or people who just want a good frickin’ cookie. The whole slice and bake thing takes the effort right out of these and saves you your sanity. And the easy delicious frosting saves you from hours of trying to create the perfect picture cookie only to come up with something that looks like an art project gone so wrong. Plus, um again, they are so good.

The cookies are just a simple blend of butter, sugar and vanilla. Pretty much just like any other sugar cookie, but these have the vanilla flavor bumped up to the max. I love vanilla, and it’s Christmas time and that just means vanilla to me. The boys actually loved the cookies all by themselves. No frosting, no sprinkles. That was a little odd seeing as they love sugar, but I have to admit that the cookies themselves are perfect on their own. Soft, sweet and so vanilla-ey.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

I still added frosting to most of the cookies though because no Christmas cookie should be left unfrosted. It’s just common sense. I went with a vanilla buttercream, but there’s a little secret ingredient involved. Salted caramel. It’s only a fourth of cup, but it just makes the frosting melt in your mouth. SOOOO good. Addictingly good.

I made my own, but you can use store-bought for a quicker frosting.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

To decorate? I kept things SO simple. I used Christmas cookie cutters to make gingerbread men, Christmas trees and Santa hats. Couldn’t be easier. Just place the cookie cutter on top of the frosted cookie and sprinkle a little sanding sugar inside the cutter. Shake the cookie to evenly distribute the sanding sugar. DONE. My kind of cookie decorating.

If you want to make shapes with the cookies, this dough works great for that too. Just roll out the dough to about an eighth inch thickness, cut your cookies and bake as directed.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

When I made these, there were of course a zillion snowboarders around from the US Team and yeah, they devoured these cookies. Said they were the best ever… maybe that’s why they haven’t left the house since?

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Easy Slice ‘n’ Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Yields: ABOUT 5 DOZEN COOKIES

Ingredients

  • Cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract* (optional)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature*
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Buttercream Frosting
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought salted caramel sauce *(Caramel recipe in notes)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • assorted sprinkles, for decorating

Instructions

To make the cookies, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla bean, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about a full 3-5 minutes.

Add the eggs and mix until evenly combined. Add half the flour, baking soda and salt, beating until combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until the dough forms a ball.

Place half the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 10-inch log. Repeat with the remaining dough. Now try and make sure each log is pretty rounded and then wrap in a generous amount of tin foil. This will prevent the dough from forming a straight edge. Place the logs in the fridge for at least one hour or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Remove one roll of dough at a time from the fridge. Unwrap the dough and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, turning the dough a quarter turn after each slice to help keep the cookies round. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. If your cookies aren’t as round as you want them to be, shape the dough with your fingers.

Bake 8 minutes for soft cookies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining roll of dough, if desired.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer) beat together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, pinch of salt and caramel, beat until combined Add the heavy cream and beat another 3 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy, add more cream to your liking.

Frost the cooled cookies and decorate as desired. To make the shapes of your favorite christmas symbols, find some smaller Christmas cookie cutters and gently place in the center of the cookie. Sprinkle the inside of the cookie cutter with sanding sugar or sprinkles. Shake the cookie a little to help evenly distribute the sanding sugar and then remove the cookie cutter.

Store cookies, covered for up to four days at room temperature.

*If you do not have almond extract on hand or cannot find it, feel free to just leave it out. BUT I think it makes these cookies great.

**To quickly bring your eggs to room temperature, place them in a large bowl with their shells on. Cover them with warm water and let them sit 5 minutes.

***The cookie dough can also be stored in the freezer. To bake remove from the freezer and let sit on the counter for 5 minutes prior to slicing. Bake As directed.

****To quickly make you own homemade caramel, heat 1 cup granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. The caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir 6 tablespoons butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
Now very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream or full-fat canned coconut milk while whisking. The mixture will rapidly bubble and/or begin to harden. This is fine.
Allow the mixture to boil for 1-2 minutes. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.

Easy Slice 'n' Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies w/Whipped Buttercream | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Come on, these Slice ‘n’ Bake Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies are pretty cute, right?!?

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