2008: Ricotta cheese is the secret ingredient in these oh-so tender sugar cookies.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies.
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
Red and green decorative sugars, optional
To prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, and reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add ricotta cheese, vanilla extract and eggs, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix just until dough forms.
Drop dough by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are lightly golden, about 15 minutes (cookies will be soft). Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and milk until smooth, adding more milk or powdered sugar as necessary for desired consistency. Using a small spatula or knife, spread icing on cookies (and top with decorative sugar, if desired). Allow icing to set for 1 hour before serving.
2008 Finalist: Mary Beth Conzett of Plymouth, Minnesota, who adapted recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine