There are three saving graces that make the holidays bearable every year: A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and Die Hard. These films are, for me, what It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas are to most of the merry and bright. They evoke the spirit of the season and bring my family together. So, this is Christmas.
As a way to honor the three wise men of Christmas movies, I made a Santa sack sized batch of Christmas Movie Cookies inspired by these classics. The Christmas movie cookies themselves are quite simple, but with a little help of movie magic and some silky smooth royal icing, they transform into Hollywood royalty.
Every year, I use a no-nonsense, no-fail, brilliant Shortbread Sugar Cookie recipe from The Grand Central Baking Book (which makes for an excellent Christmas gift) and I get flawless, sharp-edged, buttery Christmas cookies every time. The royal icing can be a bit tricky if you aren’t used to it, but once you get the hang of it, you will never go back to store bought frosting again. Piper from Grand Central Bakery studiously walks you through every step of the decorating process in the book and they’ve even put together a super-handy and informative video for decorating holiday cookies with Royal Icing.
These Christmas Movie Cookies literally take an entire day to make, but if you come prepared with plenty of table space and all of your favorite Christmas movies on standby, it’s easy to get lost in the sweet spirit of the season. The best part of making these Christmas Movie Cookies is finding inspiration in your favorite holiday movies. We laughed and laughed as we decorated little trees to resemble the burnt up Christmas Tree from Christmas Vacation, complete with squirrel. Then we ordered Chinese takeout while decorating cookies like Daisy Red Rider BB Guns and broken glasses. We capped off the night with some sweater-shaped cookies that read, “Now I have a machine gun, Ho-Ho-Ho” like we were regular John McClanes.
If you aren’t big on the madness of the malls and inflatable lawn Santas (I want to knife those things every year), find your own Christmas and celebrate how you see fit. There can be magic in the holidays, you just have to know how to find it. I for one, can’t wait to see the look on my old man’s face when he unveils the major award that is the warm glow of electric sex, aka, the Leg Lamp Cookie.
Happy Holidays friends, may your days be merry, bright and filled with Christmas Movie Cookies!Print
Christmas Movie Cookies
- Total Time: 1 hour
Simple, buttery shortbread cookies with royal icing get the warm glow of the spirit of the season in these cult classic inspired Christmas Movie Cookies.
SHORTBREAD BUTTER COOKIES
- all purpose flour – 4 2/3 cups
- salt – 2 teaspoons
- unsalted butter at room temperature – 2 cups ((4 sticks))
- granulated sugar – 1 1/3 cup
- pure vanilla extract – 2 teaspoons
- 2 large egg whites (plus extra for thinning icing if necessary)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cups confectioners sugar (sifted)
FOR THE SHORTBREAD BUTTER COOKIES
- Whisk together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
- With the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar together on medium-high until super light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl down a few times.
- With the mixer on medium-low speed, blend in the vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the dough out on a clean surface and gather into three dough balls, flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before rolling it out.
- Gather your cookie cutters and be sure to think out of the box and get creative with shapes, (watching your favorite Christmas movies helps with inspiration).
- Allow the dough disks to soften for a few minutes on the counter before rolling out. Then roll the dough disks to about 1/4″ thick.
- Use your cookie cutter to cut shapes and transfer to a lined baking sheet to chill in the fridge or freezer. Gather the scraps and re-roll and cut again until you’ve used all of the dough.
- I like to freeze my cookies to stabilize the cookies and retain the shape while they bake.
- Once the cookies have properly chilled, preheat the oven to 350°
- Place cookies on lined baking sheets a least 2″ apart and bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on the sizes and shapes of the cookies) until they just start to turn a golden brown around the edges and feel firm on the top.
- Allow to cool on sheets or transfer to cooling racks before icing.
- Liquid or gel food coloring (gels are available at decorating or kitchen shops)
- Decorating kit and several additional pastry bags or plastic squeeze bottles, if using multiple colors
- Make icing.
- In a medium mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, lightly whisk the egg whites and lemon juice. Add 3 1/2 cups of the sifted confectioners sugar and beat well until smooth and glossy; for cookie decorating, it should pause slightly before it streams off the tip of the beater. If the icing is too thick, add more egg white or lemon juice (icing may take longer to dry if thinned with lemon juice); if it’s too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. After storing, whisk before pouring into small bowls to add color.
- Test icing.
- Before you fill a pastry bag, test icing again with a spoon; for detail work, it should pause slightly before it streams off the tip of a spoon. For covering the whole cookie, you’ll want it slightly thinner, which will cause it to stream off the spoon immediately.
- Add color, fill pastry bags.
- Divide icing among small bowls and stir in food coloring a few drops at a time until desired color is reached. Transfer icing to plastic squeeze bottle or a pastry sleeve fitted with a gasket and No. 4 tip. (To fill pastry bag, place bag tip side down in a tall measuring cup or pint glass, with point folded up.) Practice piping icing on parchment paper or counter before decorating cookies.
- Flooding: To “flood” or cover cookie surface, ice the outline of the cookie and then pipe to fill in empty spaces. Smooth with an offset spatula if necessary. Let dry for at least an hour before continuing with raised designs.
- Raised designs: To dry base layer, add piped borders, stripes or other decorations to make raised designs. For a sparkling effect, apply colored sugar to wet icing then tip the cookie to remove excess sugar. You can use coarser decorating sugar as well; apply and let the cookies sit for about 15 minutes before removing excess sugar.
- Marbleizing: For a marbleized look, flood cookie surface. Add stripes or dots in a second color, then drag a toothpick through.
For more tips and ideas, watch the Holiday Cookie Decorating Video by Grand Central Bakery at grandcentralbakery.com
Adapted from Grand Central Bakery
- Cook Time: 15 minutes