Christmas cookies: From simple to spectacular

Make beautiful cookies even if you don't have time to fuss

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Wreaths
1. With a floured 3- to 4-inch fluted-edge cookie cutter, cut out large circles from cookie dough. With a floured 1- to 2-inch cutter, cut out a circle in each cookie. Transfer cookies to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment. Gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more wreaths.

2. Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

3. Serve when cool, or thread a ribbon through each wreath and hang from a tree or in a window.

To make them special: With a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with green icing, pipe "branches" onto the wreath. Or with a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted icing on each wreath.

To make them spectacular: Follow directions for special version; with a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with red icing, apply "berries" to each wreath. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the still-wet icing, then tilt and tap cookie to remove excess.

Cutout Cookies
1. With a floured square cookie cutter with a fluted edge, cut out 20 cookies from cookie dough. Transfer to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment.

2. With smaller floured cookie cutters (we used a pear shape), cut out 20 top pieces from dough. If necessary, gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more top pieces.

3. Brush the back of each top piece with a little water and press gently onto squares.

4. Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

To make them special: With a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted icing on each top piece.

To make them spectacular: Follow directions for special version; use a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with icing to create dots and leaves. If desired, apply a bit of gold leaf while icing is still moist.

 

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