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Fear Conquered: Sugar Cookies
It's a Christmas miracle! The last week before Christmas, the fake tree still isn't up, gifts still need to be purchased and holiday baking is woefully behind. Yet somehow, these sugar cookies are ready for showtime. And they're miraculous.
Ok, they're really just cookies. But they're gosh-darn easy to make. Beat, mix, chill, bake. And they're gosh-darn tasty. Buttery, sugary, crispy, golden. And so addictive. Did you know sugar cookie addiction is a real thing? It is. A miraculous, sugary craving for crispy, buttery bits of cookie heaven.
And while this cookie miracle recipe may look super simplistic, it took months of testing to get there. And four complete overhauls of the recipe. And experimenting with three kinds of fats (butter, shortening and oil). And a whole lot of testing, grumbling, retesting, grumbling, scrapping, deleting, re-adding, retesting, grumbling and binge-eating leftover sugary failures.
The Christmas miracle you find here is my quintessential sugar cookie. What every sugar cookie should aspire to be. Simple, buttery, crispy, sugary goldenness. With minimal stickiness when rolling and minimal spread while baking. And utterly satisfying without the need for icing, frosting, glazes or decorative sugars. Yes, in a word, a miraculous cookie.
So ditch the pouch of Betty's sugar cookie mix. Just throw it away (or donate it). And while you're at it, trash those mass-produced bakery cookies hopped up on shelf-stabilizers. For all their exotic, unpronounceable ingredients and robotic, manufactured precision, store-bought mixes and cookies can never match what you see here. It's not even a contest.
So if you don't feel like baking, do what I do. Demand your loved ones help out. Press your kids into service. Bribe gullible friends. Or mysteriously disappear after mixing the dough. Personally, I find it's best to disappear right after the first batch of cut-outs goes into the oven. That way, your kitchen labor is trained and you've satisfied that fleeting desire to cut out shapes.
Better yet, bake these cookies with love and holiday cheer. Because they're are worth the time. Even when you don't have the time.
STORY | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
|Start with 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter.|
|Add the butter and 2 cups of sugar to a large bowl.|
|Cream the butter and sugar together for at least 5 minutes (I use a stand mixer but you could do this by hand with a fork or use an electric hand-held mixer).|
|After creaming, butter should be lightened in color and fluffy.|
|You will need 3 large eggs at room temperature for best results.|
|Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each egg.|
|Each egg should be completed beat into the butter and sugar before adding the next egg.|
|Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.|
|Add 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract. Beat in the salt and vanilla until well combined.|
|Sift together 5 cups unbleached all purpose flour and 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder.|
|In two parts, slowly add dry ingredients to the cookie dough.|
|After adding the first half of the dry ingredients, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.|
|Slowly add the second half of the dry ingredients.|
|Mix until the dough is just combined.|
|Gather the dough together and divide in half.|
|Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk.|
|Chill both disks of cookie dough for 60-90 minutes in the refrigerator.|
|Lightly flour a rolling surface and rolling pin. Lightly flour the surface of the dough.|
|Gently roll out the cookie dough to 1/2-inch thickness.|
|Cut out cookie shapes.|
|Line baking sheets with parchment paper.|
|Transfer cut out cookies to lined baking sheet.|
|Gather scraps of cookie dough together.|
|Re-wrap scraps of dough and re-chill for at least 15 minutes.|
|Repeat rolling and cookie cut-outs with second half of cookie dough.|
|Bake cookies for 13-14 minutes at 350F until lightly golden. Cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes.|
|Transfer sugar cookies to cooling racks to complete completely before decorating.|
|Decorate as desired and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Roll Out Sugar Cookies
Prep Time: 2 hr
Cook Time: 13 min
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Ingredients (3 dozen cookies)
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes until fluffy
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly between each egg; beat in the vanilla and salt
- Sift together the flour and baking powder; on the lowest mixer speed, slowly add the dry ingredients in two parts until just combined, stopping the mixer after the first addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl
- Divide the dough in half, loosely wrap each half in plastic wrap, flatten each half into a disk and chill for 60-90 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ and line baking sheets with parchment paper
- Working with one disk of chilled dough at a time: on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness; cut out cookies using floured cookie cutters and transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheets
- Gather the scraps of cookie dough together, form a ball of dough, flatten into a disk, rewrap in plastic and re-chill for 10 minutes while working with the second disk of dough
- Bake the cookies for 13-14 minutes until golden, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time; allow the cookies to cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire cooling racks
- Decorate the cooled cookies as desired and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to a month
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2011 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | PRINTABLE RECIPE
Hungry for Tips?
- You can make these cookies without a stand mixer. Cream the butter and sugar together with a fork until lightened in color and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the flour until just combined, then follow the above recipe starting with Step 4.
- If the cookie dough cracks severely when you first start to roll out the cookies, it's too cold. Let it rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, then try again.
- These cookies spread and rise minimally while baking so you don't need to bother with refrigerating or freezing the cookie cut-outs before baking. Just cut out the cookies and pop them right into the oven to bake.
- In my family, sugar cookies only arrived once a year at Christmas. But sugar cookies are perfect for just about any holiday. So bake up a batch for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, July 4th, Halloween, etc. Sometimes I even bake letters and shapes to decorate iced sheet cakes.
- I hate frosting cookies. Or flooding cookies. Or piping decorations onto cookies. I also hate artificial food dyes. So most of the time, I decorate my sugar cookie cut-outs with melted chocolate ganache or dip the face of the cookies into a simple glaze. For special occasions, I'll sprinkle with some decorative sugars.
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