I love baking for so many reasons – I love the smell that fills my house, I love the feel of dough in my hands, and I love how homemade baked goods can put a smile on just about anyone’s face. Most of all, I love that it is something my girls and I can enjoy together, and they love doing it as much as I do. This time of year, I especially love when we get into the kitchen together. We have been baking for the holidays now for quite a number of years – and many of the treats we make I know like the back of my hand, and it is easy for me to cook something while they are on something completely different. Yesterday they were basically in charge of making the chocolate buttons, and they did so all by themselves. I am so rediculously proud of them – sometimes I just have to stand there and watch them.
So what new things have I made this year? This is one of them…I have been eyeing them in The America’s Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies from 2010 for an entire year now. The cream cheese dough really caught my eye. This dough was like silk in my hands, so smooth and creamy, yet stayed together beautifully when rolling out. I loved the idea of spraying the cinnamon sugar after spreading it on the dough – that was a great trick. The cookies were delicious – and the kids loved them. My cinnamon obsessed husband loved them even more. So, this holiday season, I hope you are making lots and lots of treats – but I hope more that you are doing so with your kids. I promise you that everything will come out just a little bit sweeter.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup super-fine sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for filling
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
With electric mixer on low speed, combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and butter, and mix until crumbly and slightly wet, 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and vanilla and mix until dough just begins to form. Finish kneading dough by hand to form large cohesive mass. Divide into 2 disks of dough, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Whisk remaining sugar and cinnamon together. Turn half the dough onto floured parchment and place another sheet on top. Roll into a 12-by-7-inch rectangle, then trim edges straight. Remove the top layer of parchment and sprinkle dough with half of the cinnamon-sugar, leaving 1/4-inch border along the edges. Spritz the filling with water, and roll dough into a 7-inch log, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough and cinnamon-sugar.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place rack to the middle position. Trim the edges of each log, then cut each log crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, and bake until edges are golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes, switching baking sheets halfway through baking. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Cinnamon Swirl Cookies