UACES Facebook Solutions for Holiday Cookie Dilemmas
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Solutions for Holiday Cookie Dilemmas

Making homemade Christmas cookies is a tradition in many families but sometimes they don't come out perfectly.


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making sugar cookies with my children. This is something that we have done since they were old enough to stand up in a chair next to the kitchen counter. It is an annual tradition at our house.

Making homemade cookies has not always been perfect. In college, I used to get frustrated when dough would stick to my rolling pin, or I would open the oven to find one large cookie. Cookie problems can happen to all of us, we just need to learn from those mistakes and find the solutions for those cookie dilemmas.   

My biggest frustration is when cookie dough sticks to the rolling pin. Using a pastry cloth and stockinet-covered rolling pin can make rolling of dough easier and help prevent dough from sticking. I liberally rub flour evenly onto my rolling pin cover and pastry cloth for easy handling. Refrigerating dough for about an hour will make the dough easier to handle as well. Especially if the dough is soft.

On the other hand, sometimes the dough cracks when rolling it out. In this case, it is likely that the dough is too cold. Remedy this by covering the dough and let sit at room temperature to warm slightly.

If you open the oven to find one large cookie instead of a dozen, what do you do? You decorate it as a large ornament. Cookies may spread for a variety of reasons. Before baking an entire batch, bake a test cookie to give a good indication of dough condition. If it spreads more than desired, the dough may be too soft. Try refrigerating the dough until well chilled. If the dough is still too soft, stir in one to two tablespoons of flour. Also, do not over soften the butter or margarine before making the dough. 

Maybe your cookies went from chewy to burned in a matter of minutes. The baking sheet is likely the problem. Choose a thin and light cookie sheet. The darker the pan, the more heat will be absorbed and therefore more heat will radiate off the surface. Keep a close eye on them and bake on the middle rack.

Cookies that break when removed from baking sheets can break your heart. If cookies are still hot from the oven, let them cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks. Once cooled per the recipe, they will remove easily and in one piece.

Sometimes your cookies crumble, are dry and hard. In this case, it is likely that you over mixed the dough, over baked, had too much water or a lack of fat. Excessive salt can also cause your cookies to be hard. Stop mixing when the dough is just mixed. Do not overdo it. When adding salt to the recipe, measure salt using measuring spoons. Level off top.

If you do not already have a favorite holiday cookie recipe, this is mine. These are made every Christmas season to share with family and friends. They will be welcome at any party you attend and are so much cheaper to make yourself instead of purchasing. I hope they become your favorite as well.

Holiday Sugar Cookies

One and one half cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*

1-teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon cream of tartar

Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into halves. Roll each half three sixteenth inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until edges are light brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Frost and decorate when cooled.

*If using self-rising flour, omit baking soda and cream of tartar.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDue, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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