I’ve always been intimidated by sugar cookies. And for good reason–they’re tricky to bake. With so few ingredients, you’d think they’d be a snap to whip up. But it’s the method that takes extra time and effort. So if you’ve got a taste for sugar cookies, and a few hours to bake, then go for it! This recipe comes from Joy of Baking and it’s fantastic! I made these cut-outs for my daughter’s 2nd Birthday party. But of course you can cut out any shape you have cutters for (Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentines Day, etc.) I’ve included recipes for both the cookies and frosting.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Add flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.
- Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and place rack in center of oven.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.)
- Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.
- Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sparkling sugar.
- Bake cookies 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown.
- Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Frost with royal icing, if desired. (Recipe below) Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours or overnight.)
- Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Store between layers of parchment paper or wax paper.
Royal Icing Ingredients:
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Royal Icing Directions:
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat egg whites with the lemon juice until combined.
- Add sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth.
- (The right consistency to cover or “flood” sugar cookies is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing. Another test is to take a cookie and place a small amount of icing in the center of the cookie. Using a small knife, push the icing to the edge of the cookie. If the icing runs off the edge, thicken the icing by adding a little more confectioners sugar. Conversely, if the icing is too thick, add a little water.)
- Separate equal amounts of icing into small bowls, and add food coloring as needed to obtain desired color(s).
- The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.
- Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.