Inexpensive and easy, last-minute holiday sugar cookies (plus icing recipe)

The icing on the cookie.

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Easy sugar cookie icing

Assorted color food colorings
1 cup confectioner's sugar (per color)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Depending on how many colors you make, use a separate bowl for each. I always make a red, yellow, green and white, but you can also blend the food coloring to create different variations.

In each bowl, combine the sugar, corn syrup, milk, extract and at least 10 drops of food coloring. You may add more or less drops to achieve the desired color hue. When completely blended, transfer each icing color into a plastic sandwich bag and chill at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

When the cookies are out of the oven and completely cooled, snip a very tiny slit in the corner of the icing bag and begin piping it onto each cookie. Allow icing to dry completely (at least one hour) and pack cookies into a Christmas bag or tin and await the compliments!

click to enlarge Inexpensive and easy, last-minute holiday sugar cookies (plus icing recipe) -
Inexpensive and easy, last-minute holiday sugar cookies (plus icing recipe)

Every year my girlfriends and I have what you would call a cookie swap party. Each of us make one type of cookie and divide the batches at the end. We leave with a massive amount of assorted cookies, fit enough to give out as gifts — and in this economy, cookies are a present that no one will want to exchange.

I always prefer to make the simple sugar cookies, as they're quick and easy to prepare when you're in a pinch, and they always go over best when decorated with homemade icing. For less than $10 in ingredients, you can make at least 6 dozen cookies and colored icing. And, if you're short on time, you can also easily use a store bought sugar cookie mix for the dough, roll it out, and have at it with Christmas cookie cutters. They then can be beautifully decorated, making them almost too cute to eat — almost.

Here's my recipe for a simple, throw-together icing that will save you a few bucks over buying it pre-made.

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