These light, flaky puffs are a wonderful addition to a cookie exchange party. Both variations highlight the aromatic spices of the season. And with no cutting or frosting required, they're an easy alternative to cutouts.
Sugar and spice and everything nice ... that's what these are made of! Children can easily help shape these cookies and roll them in the powdered sugar.”
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light in texture, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until incorporated.
Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half of the liquid ingredients and half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and stir to combine. Add the remaining liquid ingredients, dry ingredients, orange zest and cloves (or four-spice combination, if you're using the variation), and mix until uniformly combined, about 1-2 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Place the powdered sugar in a wide, shallow bowl. As soon as the cookies are cool enough to handle (but still hot), roll them in the powdered sugar and place them on a cooling rack. Once the cookies have cooled completely, transfer the remaining powdered sugar to a sieve and gently dust the Christmas puffs with it.