The days are escaping quickly which is a pretty good indication that Christmas is almost here. Another sign would be the four batches of sugar cookie dough that are chilling in the fridge waiting to be rolled and cut. Cookies to ship, cookies to go into Christmas gifts and also ones to fill the gratitude baskets we give out each year (to the people who have touched our lives - mail carrier, bank teller, mechanic, neighbor, cashier at Wal-mart. Anyone who has been special to us this year).
RECIPE AT THE BOTTOMNo basket, gift or package would be complete without my sugar cookies (so I am told). My munchkin has started enjoying in this tradition already. She looks adorable in her apron, holding a giant rolling pin and rolling out the dough. Helping cut it out and the most fun has been decorating. But, we will talk more about that later.
This is one of the many popular sugar cookie recipes out there. More than the base of the recipe, the method will really make a difference. Chilling the dough before it is rolled and again after it is cut, gives you beautiful and crisp lines on your cookies. If you have a hard time with sticking try a non stick silicone baking sheet liner with parchment paper on top. It works perfectly for me. But, if your cookies do come out of the oven a little poofy, use a flat metal spatula to gently press down on the tops while they are cooling on the baking sheet.
Dough keeps in the fridge for 2 weeks and in the freezer for at least 2 months (from my personal experience).
Good luck and happy baking! With love from our Simply Delicious kitchen to yours!
Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
makes approximately 36 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar, on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, vanilla and almond. Beat until combined. Add the salt and flour; 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°F and place rack in top third 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. (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 for about 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. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours or overnight.)
Makes about 36 cookies.