Sunday 9 December 2018
As a follow up to the rugelach post (a cookie recipe for Hanukkah) I thought it would be fitting to share a recipe for the traditional staple of all Christmas cookies: The Sugar Cookie. Perfect in its simplicity; sweet, buttery sugar cookies are a treat that all ages can enjoy. They are fantastic plain, but you can spruce them up with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, sprinkles or icing. They're also perfect with jam for little cookie sandwiches. They make great homemade, edible gifts or they can be made and served at your Holiday event or party. They are everywhere this time of year but nothing beats a homemade sugar cookie. They have that shortbread crumb to them but with a little extra chewiness you can only get from homemade.
There are a few variations of this classic cookie recipe. I chose this one for its simplicity. All versions only use a few ingredients (all of which you may already have). This one is very simple and very quick. The entire preparation is about 10 minutes and then it takes about another 10 minutes in the oven. No fuss. Some versions require you to chill the dough before you bake it but it's not necessary here. It's also a very forgiving dough. It's great for cut out cookies like we'll be demonstrating here. The scraps of can be combined, rolled out for use right away again without needing to let it rest. We all have too much else to do this time of year. Here is a festive cookie recipe you can whip up in a flash.
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F/177 C.
I like to start by mixing my dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and whisking them together to combine. Then set aside for later.
For the wet ingredients you can either you use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, a food processor, a hand mixer and a bowl (like I'm using here) or you can even do this by hand.
Begin by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Then add the vanilla extract and egg. Mix to combine.
Now it's time to add your mixed dry ingredients in three increments. Mix between each addition at a slow speed. Otherwise you will make a big mess and you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
If a dough doesn't form on its own just press is together with your hands. It should be the consistency of play-dough.
Lightly flour a flat, work surface and turn out your dough out onto it. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll your dough into an even thickness of about 1/4-inch.
With the cookie cutters of your choice, cut out as many cookies as space will allow and put them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
Once you have rerolled your scraps (waste not, want not) you can place your cookies in the preheated oven. This demo produced 36 total snowflake shaped cookies. Also, these cookies do not spread when they cook so you can arrange them rather close together, but still not touching.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes but keep an eye on them at the 6-minute mark. You do not want to overbake these cookies. They will finish cooking before the tops turn brown at all. That's the sign you've gone too far and they'll have a dry, crackery texture. So keep an eye on them. They should just hold their shape when you take them out.
That's basically your finished, plain batch of sugar cookies. If you wish to sprinkle any granulated sugar, cinnamon-sugar or sprinkles you would do that before you bake them. If you choose to decorate them with powdered sugar (like we're doing here) or using any kind of icing, make sure to wait until the cookies have cooled completely first.
I recommend placing a sheet of parchment or newspaper right under the cooling rack and sprinkle the powdered sugar from a height, through a sieve. Let it rain down and decorate the cookies. The paper underneath will catch the excess, making cleanup
I thought powdered sugar is nice and snowy so it was perfect for my snowflake shapes. What do you think?
Store in an airtight container and consume within a few days. Even though this is a quick recipe, you can refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days if it's tightly wrapped and it will freeze well for up to 3 months.
I hope this recipe brings warmth to your holiday season. If you make this recipe post pictures of it on social media and tag me @foodbybram.
Some other Christmassy recipes you may enjoy:
Chocolate-Orange Yule Log
Hershey Hug Gingerbread Cookies
Baked Camembert Snowflake
Turkey Brine (for Perfect, Juicy Roast Turkey)
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas,