♦ 2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
♦ 2 cups granulated sugar
♦ 2 large eggs
♦ 4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 of a standard cream cheese package)
♦ 1 tsp vanilla extract
♦ 1 tsp almond extract
♦ 2 tsp lemon zest
♦ 6 cups flour
♦ 3 tsp baking powder
♦ 1 tsp salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat until golden. Add the cream cheese in torn chunks, and again beat until well incorporated. Add the flavorings and lemon zest.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add, bit by bit, to the butter/sugar mixture until fully incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour (see “Notes” at end of recipe for make-ahead options).
Heat the oven to 350° F. Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies.
Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness and size of your cut-out shapes. Let cool before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container (will keep for a week stored this way).
Make-Ahead Notes: The dough freezes perfectly – roll out a few sheets of dough and freeze flat in the freezer between wax paper and plastic wrap for quick cut-out cookies later. When you take the chilled dough out of the fridge you may need to let it sit for a few moments before it is soft enough to roll out. The high quotient of butter makes this a very firm dough.
Rolling Tip – roll the dough onto sheets of parchment that are precut to fit your baking pan. That way, you can simply leave the cut shapes in place without fear of needing to lift them and risk tearing the dough in order to place them into the pan; you can simply lift the whole sheet of parchment and set it into the pan as is!