I may be behind on my Christmas cards. I may not be done with all of my Christmas shopping (I’m doing it today, OK?). But the one thing I have done on time this year, is make cookies.
I like the simple holiday cookies. The no-frills, tastes-good-every-time kind of cookie. There are certainly Italian struffoli I could fry up, full of honey and sprinkles. I could go to the other extreme with a buche de noel. But what I really want to make are sugar cookies.
They are the blank canvases of cookies. I love eating them warm with just a dusting of powdered sugar. I adore taking them to a friend’s house, whipping up a big batch of royal icing full of food coloring, and decorating them.
These sugar cookies are very simple. The one thing to be aware of is the dough does need to chill for at least two hours, so plan ahead, darlings. The dough itself whips up in 15 minutes and it won’t take long to roll it out and cut out your shapes. Take out each ball of dough as you need it, you don’t want the other pieces to warm up while you’re rolling and cutting.
The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs (use only 1 if your eggs are very large), beaten
1 Tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Note: Your butter needs to be soft enough to cream into the sugar, but avoid using the microwave if you’re in a hurry. Melted, wetter butter will alter the consistency of your final cookie. Along the same vein, try to avoid over-kneading the dough. While you work the dough, gluten is forming and the longer you knead your dough, the tougher your cookies will be.
1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well blended. I use a fork if my butter is still a little stiff, but really your butter should be soft enough for you to use an electric mixer or your counter top mixer for this step.
3. Mix in the eggs, cream, and vanilla extract.
4. Fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to overwork. As soon as the dough is coming together, turn out onto a surface coated with powdered sugar (instead of flour!) and divide into three separate discs.
5. Wrap discs in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Spread parchment paper on two baking sheets.
8. Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the shapes of your choice. I used a wine glass to make perfect circles.
9. Bake for 7-9 minutes, until the cookies are beginning to turn golden at the edges. Rotate half way through.
10. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then remove them to a separate baking board for decorating.