My McCormick Mixed Conference Weekend & Soft Frosted Lofthouse-Style Cookies

Happy Friday, friends! Have I got a treat for you…

Let’s just say these soft, scrumptious Lofthouse-style sugar cookies are my new go-to Christmas cookie. These buttery little rounds of love are a clumsy cookie decorator’s dream come true. No patience for piping bags? Wait ’til you see how easy these are. No fancy skills required – just read on for the recipe below. Your cookies will turn out perfectly cute every time!

But, more on that later. These cookies wouldn’t be begging you to grab them from the plate if I didn’t come back SO inspired from the McCormick Mixed retreat in Virginia!

You don’t know about Mixed? Well, let me give you the scoop…

Three days cozied up in a woodsy lodge. A hundred bloggers mixed with creative brands, professionals, and people ya just want to get to know. S’mores, steak, and mac ‘n cheese buffets (UM, HELLO). And peaceful, blissful relaxation all while having a ball with new (and old) friends!

McCormick snatched me up and sent me to this beautiful resort high up in the Appalachian mountains for a weekend, and I couldn’t be happier that they did. Put on by Susan from Doughmesstic and Paula from Bell’Alimento, the Mixed Conference is a small, intimate gathering held at Mountain Lake Lodge, which is just about the most warm ‘n cozy place I’ve ever been in my life. Besides my bed.

When I wasn’t sitting in on sessions, snapping away with my SLR, or mingling (and eating) with all the lovely ladies, I was a’loungin’ in that big squishy bed. This lodge is perfect for just that – kicking back and letting your hair down!

When I did eventually peel myself off the bed, I got to enjoy some fabulous talks by Carolyn O’Neil, Taylor Mathis, Bree Hester and Helene Du Jardin, to name a few favorites! All were so fascinating and lots of fun to learn from. I came away with lots of mental notes… and a big wishlist of new photography props to buy. Christmas is coming, after all!

My favorite session by far, though, was the one put on by McCormick. We got to admire some gorgeous baked goodies using their flavors and colors, and decorate a few treats of our own! It’s incredible what endless flavor-color combinations you can create with their products. Working with them over the years has honestly strengthened my passion for baking!

Just take a look of some of these amazing creations! Cookie cups, pink lemonade cupcakes, a rainbow cake made with dollops of multicolored batter, a gorgeous ombré effect using different piping tips, and a cute ladybug cake baked using large and small mixing bowls were my favorites. You couldn’t possibly have come out of that session uninspired.

I certainly did… just check out these cheery little Christmas cookies using McCormick food colors and flavorings!

Warming up by the fire in the chilly Virginia mountains definitely put me in the Christmas state of mind – even though it was just barely Thanksgiving! Everywhere you looked at the conference there were baked goodies - brownies, cupcakes and candies – but most nights all I wanted was a cup of hot tea and a cookie.

Sitting here writing in my biggest, coziest sweater, I’m definitely enjoying that simple indulgence!

Every year, I find myself ogling at all the amazing, colorful Christmas cookies other bloggers have baked up. So, I found it high time that I inject a little oompf into my own Christmas baking with some festive McCormick colors and flavors!

These soft and buttery cookies taste JUST like your bakery’s best, but with all the homemade goodness of a cookie baked from scratch. Plus, the recipe yields several dozen, so you’ll have plenty to hand out to friends, family, neighbors, teachers… and even Santa!

Change up the colorings to compliment any time of year – pink for spring, orange for Halloween, your favorite team’s colors - and the flavors of the frosting, too. I used a little peppermint extract and vanilla extract in separate batches, but experiment for yourself! McCormick has so many fun flavors to choose from.

You’ll absolutely love these pillowy soft, sweet little Lofthouse cookies for the holidays or any day. With a smattering of fun sprinkles, they’re the most fun treat for any time of year. For gift giving, they also ship very well, too!

Try them this weekend with your own spin, and make sure to leave some for Santa! … Just don’t be surprised if he takes more than one cookie. And a few for the reindeer. And maybe another for the road.

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Soft Frosted Lofthouse-Style Cookies

Yield: Makes 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
5 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

For the Frosting:
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup milk (plus more, as needed)
1 Tablespoon McCormick Food Extract, your choice (I used peppermint and vanilla)
Assorted McCormick Food Colors (I used red and green)
Sprinkles, nonpareils or sanding sugar, optional

Directions:

For the Cookies:

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

When ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet; flatten dough balls slightly with your fingers. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 2-3 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until set. Be careful not to over-bake! The edges should be no more than very lightly browned, if at all. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Sift confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Add melted butter, milk, and your desired extract to the bowl; whisk until smooth. Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Separate frosting into batches, if desired, and tint each with desired food coloring.

Invert cookies into frosting and place on a large baking sheet or wire rack to let frosting set. Immediately top with sprinkles, if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Beantown Baker

This recipe was created for McCormick, who generously sponsored me at the Mixed Conference and provided materials for the recipe. However, all opinions are my own.

      

26 Responses to “My McCormick Mixed Conference Weekend & Soft Frosted Lofthouse-Style Cookies”

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    1
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — December 6, 2013 @ 1:59 am

    How fun! I went to Mixed last year – wish I had gone again this year so I could’ve finally met you in person!

    And these cookies are gorgeous! They’re definitely getting me in the Christmas spirit!

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    Sandra — December 6, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    This would be so much fun to go to! I will be adding these cookies to my baking list this season. Can the dough be frozen?

    • Georgia — December 8th, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

      Hi Sandra – Yes, the dough can be frozen. Just bring it to close to room temperature before baking.

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    3
    Eileen — December 6, 2013 @ 8:00 am

    Sounds like a great time was had by all Georgia. I think going to boycott McCormick if I don’t get an invite one of these years – lol!

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    Ramona — December 6, 2013 @ 8:41 am

    What a lovely event!! I can see why you are so enthralled with it all. :) The cookies are fabulous too. :)

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    Marie @ Little Kitchie — December 6, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    Sounds like such a fun time! And these cookies — I’m such a sucker for this kind of treat! They look PERFECT!

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    Marcie — December 6, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    What a fabulous opportunity — the mix sounded wonderful! Now these cookies are gorgeous — they don’t need fancy decorations with those colors and sprinkles! They look delicious, Georgia!

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    7
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) — December 6, 2013 @ 9:47 am

    Mixed looks like such fun!!! I wish I could’ve gone!

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    sally @ sallys baking addiction — December 6, 2013 @ 9:57 am

    I’ve never been to Mixed before, but it looks like a wonderful time Georgia! I would love to meet some food bloggers (and you!) in person some day.

    Lofthouse cookies are a total weakness. These look fab & oh-so-festive, my friend.

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    9
    Ash-foodfashionparty — December 6, 2013 @ 11:55 am

    Mixed sounds and looks like so much fun.
    these cookies look like Christmas on a plate.

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    10
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef — December 6, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

    I wish there was something like this in Australia – I have great envy. :)

    The lofthouse style cookies are gorgeous.

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    11
    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic — December 6, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

    That retreat sounds incredibly fun! i wish I knew about it sooner. Next year I’m going to try and go to more bloggy stuff like that :) And these cookies are so cute and perfect for Santa!

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    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts — December 6, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

    I have heard great things about Mixed, wish I could have gone it looks fabulous!

  13. #
    13
    Nami | Just One Cookbook — December 6, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    Beautiful Christmas cookies! Sounds like you had a nice trip and how fun to meet other bloggers and learn together!

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    14
    Carolyn — December 6, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

    Sounds like so much fun. Definitely going on my conference wishlist. Hope we can meet sometime! Your cookies are gorgeous too.

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    15
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — December 6, 2013 @ 11:41 pm

    Such fun and festive cookies, they certainly look like Christmas pillows!

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    Ashley — December 7, 2013 @ 6:49 am

    Mixed sounds like so much fun! I’ve yet to go to a food blogging conference but really hope to at some point, sooner rather than later! And these cookies look delicious – so festive and fun!

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    John@Kitchen Riffs — December 8, 2013 @ 11:48 am

    Sounds like you had a terrific time! What fun that must have been! Kind of you to present us with this great cookies as a consolation prize for not being about to attend. ;-) Really good stuff – thanks.

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    Monet — December 8, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

    Yum Georgia! These are gorgeous. I was going to go to the Mixed Conference with McCormick but had to wait because of my nursing babe :) I’m so glad you were able to go! What a fun time! Thank you for sharing sweet girl!

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    The Café Sucre Farine — December 9, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

    How in the world did I not see you at Mixed? I can’t believe you were there and we didn’t run into each other, that makes me sad. Your cookies look wonderful Georgia, you did a great job for McCormick!

    • Georgia — December 11th, 2013 @ 8:15 am

      I’m so sorry we didn’t run into each other! I feel like I met everyone there (it was such a nice intimate conference), but I wish we had the chance to meet, Chris!

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    Christine — December 10, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

    I want to make these for a christmas party coming up – do you think I’d be able to shape these bad boys? It would absoloutly perfect if that would be possible, I’m just afraid that it’ll be too soft and it would lose shape! What do you think?

    • Georgia — December 10th, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

      I’ve never shaped them with anything besides round cutters, but you could certainly try it! Try a few with shapes, and if it doesn’t work out, bake the remaining batch as rounds.

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    Elecia — December 10, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    Does the dough need to be frozen before baking? I wanted to try pressing and baking the dough into cookie molds.

    • Georgia — December 11th, 2013 @ 8:15 am

      It needs to be chilled in the refrigerator, not frozen.

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    Jamie — December 17, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

    I made a full batch today to share with my neighbors for the holidays! I’m sure they will be enjoyed by many! Thanks for sharing.

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