Colorfully decorated, thickly-cut sugar cookies are some of the most eye catching cookies in any bakery case. They’re the most popular with kids, but I sometimes find myself caving in and getting one just because they look so appealing. This type of cookie tends to be more about the frosting than the cookie, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have one that actually tastes as good as it looks – and this recipe for Thick Cut-Out Sugar Cookies is a great one to have handy when you feel like baking up a batch of your own.
This dough does not need to be chilled before you work with it, unless it is very hot where you are working (in which case I recommend turning on the air conditioning before you start) and it is very easy to handle. The soft and buttery dough can actually handle quite a bit of extra flour, which means that you can generously flour your work space to keep the dough from sticking to anything and you can still gather up the scraps and reroll them to get another batch of cookies. The dough won’t get tough even if you roll it out a few times unless you really go crazy with flouring your work surface.
Since I wanted to mimic those thick, bakery-style cookies, I chose to use fairly large cookie cutters for these cookies and opted for 2 1/2 to 3-inch flour cookie cutters from the Wilton Garden Cookie Cutter Set. Even with large cutters, you’ll still be able to make quite a few cookies, since you won’t have any wasted dough, but with smaller cutters you can get a few more dozen from this recipe. I flavored my cookie dough, which is an adaptation of the roll-out cookie recipe that came with the cutters, with vanilla extract and Amaretto. The Amaretto has a more subtle almond flavor than almond extract, though you can substitute almond extract or lemon extract in place of the Amaretto if that is what you already have on hand.
The cookies are slightly crisp around the edges and chewy in the center. They’re tender and have a nice blend of butter and vanilla flavor to them, but they’re not too sweet. The dough will not spread too much in the oven, so it is a great match for some of your more elaborate cookie cutters. Since they’re not too sweet, they’re perfect for frosting and you can do a lot of decorating with these cookies. A simple confectioners’ sugar glaze will sweeten them up nicely, and you can make a batch of royal icing for making fancier decorations. You can even top them off with a generous sprinkle of coarse sugar for a sweet, crunchy finish if you don’t want to get to deep into decorating. Any way you serve them, they’re a classic that both kids and adults will enjoy eating – and you’ll definitely have fun making them.
Thick Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp Amaretto or 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla extract and Amaretto (or almond extract).
With the mixer on low speed, mix in the salt and gradually blend in the flour until it is completely incorporated and the dough comes together into a smooth ball.
Divide dough in half and gently knead if dough is not completely smooth.
Place half of the dough on a well-floured work surface and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes with large (2 1/2 – 3-inch) cookie cutters and transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Gather and reroll cookie dough scraps. Repeat with second half of the cookie dough.
Chill cut out cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie, until cookies are set and very lightly browned around the edges.
Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen large cookies.