I have a confession to make -- I don't really like Christmas cookies. I love cutting them out, decorating them with my mom and sister, making the goopy colored frosting, but at the end of the day, they taste like straight butter and flour. I had given up on Christmas cookies until, on a whim, I opened up my Baking Illustrated cookbook and, lo and behold, I found the greatest Christmas cookies of all time: jam sandwiches.
It turns out the secret ingredients for the perfect sugar cookie are a) superfine sugar, b) two sticks of butter, and c) cream cheese. As always a stand mixer takes all of the guess work out of making these, and liberal use of parchment paper makes rolling/cutting/cleanup incredibly easy. Be sure to refrigerate the dough in between steps and to eat one of the cookie holes right when it comes out of the oven. I think I've found my favorite cookie recipe ever.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the flour, sugar, and salt at low speed until combined. With the mixer running on low, add the butter a piece at a time. Continue to mix until the mixture looks crumbly and slighty wet. Add the vanilla and cream cheese and mix for another 30 seconds.
- Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for a few turns, then turn the dough out onto the countertop. divide in half and wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out one half of the dough to an even 1/8" thickness between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Slide the rolled tough, still on the parchment, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Cut out the cookies with a 2" round cookie cutter and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown. Roll out the the remaining dough, sprinkle the sugar over the dough, and use a 3/4" round cookie cutter to cut out the centers of the rounds. Bake as before.
- When the cookies have cooled, add about 1 tsp of jam on the base cookies and put the cut-out cookies on top. Let stand until set, about 30 minutes.