Archive for: sugar cookies
Sugar cookies are one of the most classic and crowd-pleasing cookies out there. They’ve always been a staple of the Christmas cookie platter at my house, and since they are easy to dress up with colored sprinkles, they are usually a hit with the kids. I definitely remember rolling sugar cookie dough in all kinds of crazy colored sprinkles and decorations (some tasted better than others, if I recall correctly!) in preparation for the holidays.
I still like sugar cookies, but I wanted my Christmas Sugar Cookies to have a little bit more of a grown up look this time around and I did that by toning down their color a notch. The cookie dough is rolled in sugar before baking, but I added a small amount of red and green sugar crystals to the plain white sugar to give the cookies just a hint of color. I really liked the look of the finished cookies, since they looked festive without looking over the top. Of course, if you do want to take them over the top, you can go ahead and skip the white sugar and just roll your cookie dough in colored sugar!
These cookies are also delicious. Even though they are simple, they have a great buttery-vanilla flavor to them and a nice chewiness. Rolling them in sugar before baking makes the outer edge of the cookie a little bit crunchy, for a nice textural contrast, too. Don’t be tempted to over-bake the cookies, or they’ll lose some of their chewiness. These cookies will keep well when stored in an airtight container for a few days, but during the holiday season they probably won’t last that long!
I have a couple seasonal kitchen towels that I pull out for various holidays throughout the year. I have a set with hearts for Valentine’s Day, with bats and black cats for Halloween and all kinds of lights and decorations for Christmas. These ultra-cute Sugar Cookie and Gingerbread Kitchen Towels that Sur La Table is stocking for this holiday season are about to head into my holiday kitchen towel collection. Each towel has a list of ingredients for a classic holiday baking recipe: one towel has a sugar cookie recipe, the other has a gingerbread cake recipe. They have a great, festive look and any baker would get a kick out of them – especially if you get them as a set.
The one caveat to these towels is that there are no instructions for mixing the ingredients if you want to try the recipes. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to figure out how they should be put together. For the cookies: Mix the cookie ingredients as you would a standard cookie dough, chill it, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. 350F for 10-15 minutes should be plenty of baking time, depending on how large your cookies are. For the gingerbread: Mix the ingredients as you would for a typical butter cake, creaming the butter and sugar, adding the eggs and alternating the wet and dry ingredients. Pour into a bundt pan and bake at 350F until a toothpick comes out clean. Check the cake early to make sure you don’t overbake it.
The towels are made of cotton and measure 30″ x 20 1/2″. They’re soft enough to use for regular kitchen uses, like drying dishes or wiping up spills, but because of the designs I know that they would mostly be used for display (and maybe as a recipe guideline) and drying my hands, nothing heavy duty because I would want to keep them clean and presentable – even if they are towels!
Cookie cutters are a lot of fun to work with, since you can create cookies in all kinds of amazing shapes and designs. The one thing that you really need for cut out cookies is a good cookie dough that is versatile and easy to work with. This recipe for Cut-Out Sugar Cookies is a great choice for just about any type of cookie cutter that you might have in your pantry. The cookies are sweet and buttery, with a hint of vanilla to them. They are excellent on their own, but plain enough that they can handle the addition of some icing or glaze if you decide to decorate them, too. The dough also holds its shape extremely well, which means that you can use very detailed cookie cutters and the dough will still hold its shape after baking.
Vanilla is the most versatile flavor for these sugar cookies, but if you get bored with vanilla, it is easy to add other flavors into the dough. You can substitute a portion of the vanilla extract with another extract – lemon, almond, peppermint, etc. – or you can stir some fresh citrus zest into the dough for a bright pop of flavor. The cookies will be slightly crisp when they’re rolled out to about 1/4-inch thick. For a slightly softer cookie, you can roll the cookie dough out thicker or decrease the baking time by a minute or so.
This dough is very forgiving and can be rolled out multiple times. It also keeps very well in the refrigerator for several days when well-wrapped with plastic wrap, if you want to make it in advance and have it on hand. The only thing that you’ll need to keep in mind when working with this dough is that it can become very firm when it has been in the fridge for a long time, so you may need to let it warm up for a few minutes before trying to roll it out. If you press your dough into thin discs before refrigerating, you shouldn’t have much of a problem. If the dough becomes slightly sticky as you work, just pop it back into the fridge for a few minutes before continuing to work with it to keep your cut-outs nice and neat.
Sugar cookies are very simple cookies and I like to think of them as a blank canvas. Because the ingredients in the cookies are very simple – and the finished cookies typically have a mild flavor of just vanilla, sugar and butter – they’re a great canvas for other flavors. Cardamom, for instance, can make a plain sugar cookie a little more exotic. For these Double Vanilla Sugar Cookies, I decided to enhance one of the flavors that is already present in most sugar cookies by doubling up on one of my very favorite ingredients: vanilla.
These cookies include a lot of vanilla extract right in the cookie dough, but they’re rolled in vanilla sugar before baking. Vanilla sugar is simply sugar that has been infused with vanilla. I often make my own by storing used vanilla beans with sugar (for long periods of time), but there are some places that make vanilla sugar, which you can also use. The vanilla sugar adds an extra layer of vanilla to these cookies and ensures that you will get the wonderful flavor of vanilla in every bite. My homemade vanilla sugar includes flecks of vanilla bean, which gives the cookies a nice look after they’ve been rolled. This coating of sugar adds a very subtle crunch to the exterior of the cookies, too.
These cookies are chewy and tender, a classic sugar cookie in texture. Baking time is important for these cookies because they can dry out easily if overbaked. For best results, take them out of the oven just as they start to turn a light gold around the edges. If you prefer a slightly crisper cookie, bake them for an extra two or three minutes, but don’t let the cookies brown too much. They keep very well and stay just a bit chewy even after storing them for a couple of days as long as you keep them in an airtight container.
Sugar cookies are the kind of cookies that appeal to just about everyone. They can seem plain, but a buttery sugar cookie that has just a hint of vanilla to it can prove to be a very satisfying snack, even if it isn’t loaded up with chocolate chips, nuts or other goodies. Of course, because sugar cookies are relatively plain, they are also an excellent canvas for other flavors in a way that cookies that include everything-but-the-kitchen-sink aren’t.
Cardamom Sugar Cookies are a wonderful way to showcase the versatility of the sugar cookie, spicing up a classic recipe to make them just a little more unique. Cardamom has a very fragrant, almost perfumey flavor to it and it blends very well with the vanilla extract that is already in the cookie dough. The finished cookies look like sugar cookies, but offer a much more interesting and more complex flavor than you’re going to get from any “plain” sugar cookie!
I used a combination of butter and vegetable shortening in these cookies for two reasons. First, shortening actually helps keep the cookies a little chewier than butter alone would. Second, the shortening has a much more neutral flavor than butter, so the sugar, the vanilla and the cardamom are all able to stand out a little more in the finished product. The recipe will still turn out if you use all butter in yours, and it can be made with all shortening for a slightly softer overall cookie, as well.