Almond Sugar Cookies and Mascarpone-Cocoa Cutouts

Stick to the basic cookie cutter shapes you already have on hand to create jolly Santas with a little help from icing, frosting, and sprinkles.

Almond Sugar Cookies and Mascarpone-Cocoa Cutouts
Photo: Carson Downing
Hands On Time:
20 mins
Bake Time:
8 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
48 cookies


  • ¾ cup slivered almonds, toasted

  • 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest

  • Royal Icing

  • Buttercream Frosting

Royal Icing

  • 1 16 ounce package (about 4 cups) powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoon meringue powder*

  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ½ cup warm water

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a food processor pulse toasted almonds until finely ground. In a medium bowl combine ground almonds, flour, and 1/4 tsp. salt

  2. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon zest. Beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of dough at a time to 1/4 inch thick. Using 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Reroll scraps as needed.

  4. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are light brown and centers are set. Let cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Let cool on a wire rack. Decorate with Royal Icing and Buttercream Frosting.

Royal Icing

  1. In a large mixing bowl stir together powdered sugar, meringue powder, and cream of tartar. Add the 1/2 cup warm water, and the vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until icing is very stiff. If not using immediately, cover bowl with a damp paper towel; cover tightly with plastic wrap (icing will dry out quickly when exposed to air). Chill for up to 48 hours. Stir before using.

Buttercream Frosting

In a large bowl beat ½ cup softened butter with a mixer on medium 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy. Beat in ½ cup powdered sugar. Add 1 Tbsp. heavy cream and ½ tsp. vanilla; beat on low until combined. Gradually beat in an additional 1½ cups powdered sugar just until combined. Beat on medium 5 minutes or until fluffy, scraping bowl as needed. Add an additional 2 tsp. heavy cream; beat on high 1 minute more. Makes 1¾ cups.

Mascarpone-Cocoa Cutouts

In a large bowl beat 1/2 cup softened butter and 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese with a mixer on medium 30 seconds. Add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt; beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 egg. Beat in 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and as much of 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Chill, covered, 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle. Roll out dough, bake, and decorate as directed for Almond Sugar Cookies.

Royal Icing

In a large bowl stir together one 16-oz. pkg. (4 cups) powdered sugar, 3 Tbsp. meringue powder, and ½ tsp. cream of tartar. Add ½ cup warm water and 1 tsp. vanilla. Beat with a mixer on low until combined. Beat on high 7 to 10 minutes or until icing is very stiff (for piping outlines and details). For flooding, divide out some of the icing and beat in additional warm water (4 to 5 tsp. per 1 cup icing) to reach desired consistency. When not using icing, keep it covered with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent drying out. If desired, chill up to 48 hours; stir before using. Makes about 3 cups.


Meringue powder is a mixture of pasteurized egg whites, sugar, and edible gums. It is the secret ingredient to making Royal Icing dry quickly with a smooth, hard finish. Look for it in the baking aisle of large supermarkets or in the cake decorating department of hobby and crafts stores.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

169 Calories
10g Fat
17g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 22
Calories 169
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 96mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0.1mg 0%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 0.8mg 4%
Potassium 43mg 1%
Folate, total 26.2mcg
Vitamin B-12 0mcg
Vitamin B-6 0mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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