Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sugar Cookies

Happy Holidays ya'll!  The time is upon us when our kitchens are covered in flour and cookie jars are overflowing with craveable sweet treats.  So, why not begin the barrage of holiday recipes with the original holiday cookie...the sugar cookie.

I cannot remember a Christmas that didn't involve my family rolling out cookie dough, cutting Christmas tree and Santa cookies, and smothering them with as much buttercream icing as possible.  And, topping them off with sugar, sugar and, oh yeah, more sugar!  But hey, it's the holidays, so let's get jolly.

I found this recipe on one of my go-to blogs, Our Best Bites.  This was the first year I didn't make my family's sugar cookie recipe that is on the back of a 1988 M&M calendar, I thought it was time to make a change in my life.

There is nothing out of the ordinary going on with this recipe, just flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  The recipe originally calls for almond extract, but I must admit, I am not a huge fan of the stuff.  Despite the ordinary ingredients, these cookies will produce extraordinary results!  I love 'em, and I am not afraid to admit it. 

So let's get cooking!  Begin by creaming the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Add in one egg (I always use room temperature eggs) and the vanilla.  Mix until the egg is incorporated and slowly add in the sifted flour mixture.  I always seem to make the mistake of being too heavy-handed with the dry ingredients, the result flour...everywhere, even on my dog!  Once everything is mixed (don't forget the stuff stuck to the bottom!) place the dough on wax paper.

Flatten the dough in a round disk.  This will quicken the chilling process, more surface area = less time in the fridge.  So, why are we refrigerating the dough? 

The butter in the dough is much easier to work with when it's cold because butter at room temperature tends to be quite sticky.  Also, the chilled dough will retain its' shape better when baking.  This is especially important when you are cutting shapes as the cookies will spread if the dough is not chilled properly.  Am I the only one who has had morbidly obese Santas because I was a little too eager to start baking?

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 of an inch, and cut out those cookies with any shape your heart desires!

Now DO NOT throw away the extra dough!  It kills me to see all of that dough get wasted.  Even though they do not use the scraps on television, just roll it back up, please, please, please!

Ok, back to the cookies.  Place the cut-outs on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.  Wait until they are cool and slab on that icing.  My favorite buttercream icing recipe via The Kitchen Magpie is at the bottom.  Trust me, it is amazing!

Now.  Why are these sugar cookies so great?  What sold me was the fact these amazingly remain soft in the middle, yet crunchy on the outside.  How is that possible?  I also love the fact they are not overly sweet, especially since you are topping them with sugar...on top of sugar!  Also, these babies taste fantastic even without icing, gasp!  I never thought I would say that.  Seriously.

Sugar Cookies
original source: Our Best Bites
1 cup real butter (no substitutions!) at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg (make sure to use a large or extra large egg)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract)
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in egg and extract and mix to incorporate (about 30 seconds).  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk.  

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on LOW speed until completely combined.
Chill the dough in the fridge for about an hour, or flatten out onto wax paper in a disk.
When you’re ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thick.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. For slightly chewy, bake about 8-9 minutes does it, for crispy bake for 10-12 minutes. 
Top with a layer of "The Best Buttercream Icing" and lots of sprinkles. 



  1. what lovely festive shapes and i love all the sprinkles. i've baked so many cookies this season. no sugar cookies yet though! they are next. :)

    1. Thank you for the comment, and there's nothing like decorating sugar cookies!