Super Simple Sugar Cookies

in , by Mackenzie Elaine Wasilick, October 30, 2019

I've been working on the perfect sugar cookie recipe for almost two years now. I've made them for everything from work retreats to asking my bridesmaids. Designer cookies without the price (because your girl is not paying $20+ for sugar and butter). Even my cousin who is a pretty decent chef in her own right said - and I quote - "these cookies are pretty good". She's not one to heave out compliments often, so I'm taking that stamp of approval and running with it. I've also not received a complaint yet, so I figured I'll share my recipe with those who are interested! I do have one disclaimer... in the world of casual-baking, I'm relatively new. But I've got a few ground rules about anything I try to tackle by myself! The recipe must:
  • Be easy.... aka no fancy tools, no crazy ingredients. If I can't find it (without help) at the Harris Teeter or if I don't have the tool in my pantry (pre-wedding registry), then it's just not happening.
  • Look pretty when it's done. I love to make things as much as the next person, but I fall under the philosophy of "pics or it didn't happen" on the homemade goods. If it's going to come out and you have to say "just wait until you taste it", then I'm probably not making it.
So that's why these cookies are so easy. If you have the right tools (cough, hand-mixer, cough) then they're super easy. This particular recipe makes cookies that are meant to be covered/decorated with royal icing - this is not the recipe I would use for a more traditional sugar cookie that is sprinkled with granulated sugar!

Here's what you need:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • Tools: Two mixing bowls (large and medium size), rolling pin, cookie sheet, cookie cutters, parchment paper is optional but I prefer it!
Here's how you do it:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Optional: throw your cookie sheet(s) into the refrigerator. I like to keep my cookie sheets cold so the cookies keep their shape as I'm preparing the whole sheet. I usually use two medium-to-large size cookie sheets so I can alternate cutting shapes and cooking a batch until I run out of dough.
  • Bowl #1 (larger) Cream together butter and granulated sugar until smooth. You can use a mixer to help with the butter, but if you're mixing by hand, pop those bad boys in the microwave for like 15 seconds before adding to the sugar. 
  • Bowl #1 (larger) Mix in egg as well as vanilla & almond extracts.
  • Bowl #2 (medium) In the separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Little by little add in the dry mixture to the wet. Mixture should be roughly like Play-Doh. You DO NOT have to chill this dough. If you need to make the dough in advance, you can chill it, but bring back to room temperature before rolling out.
  • Scatter some all purpose flour onto a clean surface.
  • Roll out workable sections of dough onto floured surface - you want this dough to still be relatively thick (about 1/4 inch but not less).
  • Cut desired shapes and place onto cookie sheet (cooled and with parchment paper if desired).
  • Bake 6-8 minutes per sheet. I have found that in my oven, 7 minutes is perfect!
  • Place on cooling rack and let cool completely before decorating! 
  • If not decorating until the next day, remember to cover cookies so they do not get stale overnight!

My biggest tip for these is to make the cookies one day and decorate them the next. Altogether can feel like a bit much for one night - not matter how precise you are with a pipe bag. You HAVE to let these cookies cool before you decorate them. If you don't have time for that and you're reading this in an attempt to make something tonight... just go get yourself some break-and-bakes and call it a day. 

Sharing more about royal icing soon... I promise. This post was long enough. 

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