Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Is there anyone who doesn’t like cookies over the holiday season? We don’t think so. We love these cookies because they can add to your holiday festivities in so many ways. If you want to have a holiday baking day like Tuck’s grandma and aunt in California, you can bake the cookies in advance and leave the frosting and decorating for guests who attend your cookie day. If you want to do the work yourself, they make great hostess gifts, teacher gifts, and presents for people like the mailman. It’s a little gesture that can mean a lot for someone’s holiday. 

We LOVE this particular sugar cookie recipe because of their shameless vanilla flavor. The added touch of vanilla beans to the dough and almond extract to the frosting makes these cookies stand out from the crowd. As for the decorating, we understand that people can get hung up over it. For an excellent tutorial on how to decorate with royal icing, watch this video from Food Network. All you need is a few tooth picks, a small tip piping bag, and food coloring of your choice. We always recommend using gel food coloring so that you don’t water down your icing giving it a color change! 

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies 
Makes: 24 cookies 
Prep Time: 15 minutes   Total Time: 30 minutes for cookies + about an 1 hour for decorating  depending on how many people are helping you 

Ingredients For Cookies:

  • 2 sticks butter, cold and cut into small cubes  
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 large vanilla bean, scraped 
  • 1 tsp almond extract 
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 3 cups all purpose flour 

Ingredients for Frosting 

  • 1 lb powdered sugar 
  • 2 tbs meringue powder 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp almond extract 
  • gel food coloring
  • sprinkles, if desired 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until the butter is light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, and almond extract to the butter. Mix until thoroughly blended, scraping the butter from the bottom of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. 
  3. Add the baking powder and flour to the mix. Mix until just combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a large sheet of saran wrap. Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before rolling out. If you want to make the dough in advance, keep in the refrigerator for up to two days before baking the cookies. 
  4. Use a rolling pin and a bit of extra flour on the surface of your counter and the dough,  roll the dough into an even sheet- approximately 1/2 inch thickness. Use a variety of holiday themed cookie cutters to cut out the dough, and place each cut cookie onto a cookie sheet. Re-roll the dough as necessary until you’ve used it all up.
  5. Bake the cookies for 6-7 minutes. You want the center to be cooked through but do not want them to brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack before decorating.  
  6. Make the frosting. Combine the frosting ingredients in a mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 5 full minutes, or until the frosting gets a glossy sheen. Give it a taste and add more vanilla or almond, if desired. Mix well to combine.
  7. Divide the frosting into a few smaller bowls and use the gel food coloring to color each small bowl to your desired color. Decorate the cookies as you see fit, using the tutorial above! The frosting recipe is great for outlining the cookies and doing decorations on top of a full icing. We add another +/- 1 tbs of water to the full mix (or a tsp to each smaller bowl) for flooding the cookies. The amount of water can vary- test on a spare cookie until you get the desired frosting texture. 

Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Place Cards

At Tuck & Tate, we think you are never too old for a party favor. It is that little extra that leaves a great impression with guests long after the party is over. Since we always have place cards at Thanksgiving, we thought we would make cookies decorated with everyone’s names as the place card. We adapted this recipe for our pumpkin sugar cookie dough and bumped up the spices in the batter to really give it that fall punch. The cookies are not that sweet, so the frosting is a good and welcome addition. A quick trip to Michaels for some cellophane and ribbon and you have an easy, thoughtful take-home gift. 

Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Place Cards                                                                                                                      
Serving Size: +/- 24 cookies, depending on the shape you cut them                                                           
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Inactive Time: 2 hours    Total Time: 3.5 hours

Ingredients For Cookies:

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice  
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 

Ingredients For Royal Icing:

  • 1 lb powdered sugar 
  • 2 tbs meringue powder (you can buy this at Michaels or any baking store) 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 5-6 tbs water 
  • food coloring of your choice (use the gel type that won’t thin the icing)

Directions:  

  1. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract, mixing until well combined. 
  2. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder, and flour to the bowl. Mix on a low speed until the batter is just absorbed, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary with a spatula to make sure everything is combined. Pour the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  4. Use a small handful of flour to coat a countertop for rolling out the dough. Roll the dough until it is roughly 1/2 inch thick. Use the cookie cutters of your choice to cut out the cookies, placing them onto a baking sheet. 
  5. Bake the cookies for 6-7 minutes. They might appear pale, but they will be cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  6. While the cookies are cooling, make the icing. Put the powdered sugar and meringue powder through a sieve to make sure it doesn’t have any lumps. Add the vanilla, water, and food coloring to the mix, whisking to combine. When the cookies are completely cool, use a small tip piping bag to decorate the cookies with your guests names. Let the icing dry for at least an hour before placing into cellophane bags.  

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are a staple at Tuck & Tate. Our dad is the baker in the family, and for many years we all anxiously await the arrival of his famous Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. We would love these cookies year round, but find that waiting until fall makes them taste that much better. This recipe feeds a crowd and makes a boat load of cookies- it’s a great recipe for fall sporting events, weekday school lunches, and a great treat to bring to friends! These cookies certainly stand up on their own, but if you’re feeling especially festive, are best paired with a crisp cider or pumpkin beer.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Makes: 36 cookies 

  • 1 stick butter 
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup white sugar 
  • ½ cup canola oil 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 eggs 
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1 ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips 
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 

Directions: 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two cookie sheets with silpat 
  • Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice) in a medium bowl. Set aside. 
  • In a stand mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and oil until well combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary so that the ingredients are creamy and fully combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between, until fully combined. 
  • Add the bowl of dry ingredients ⅓ at a time to the wet and mix until just combined, do not over mix! Scrape the bowl with a spatula as necessary as you add the dry ingredients if the batter is not combining well. 
  • Add the pumpkin puree and chocolate chips to the batter. Stir until just combined. The batter will be very light and fluffy, similar to a cake batter as compared to a dense cookie batter. 
  • Scoop the batter with a 1 ½ tbs scoop and put onto the cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. 
  • Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, or until the center is just cooked through. 
  • Cool completely before serving (if you can resist the temptation!).