Monday, December 6, 2010

Sugar Cookies

I love sugar cookies. As in, I could eat the whole batch by myself, which probably wouldn't be as many as you think it might be because I can't stop eating the dough before they're baked.

I have a recipe for sugar cookies that I've made for Christmas since the late 1970s, first with Mom's help and later by myself. Mom was more than happy to let me bake cookies by myself once she was satisfied that I wouldn't kill myself using the oven. Anyhoo, this particular recipe comes from Good Housekeeping, circa 1977, in their "Susan, Our Beginner Cook" series. Susan must no longer be cooking now as I couldn't find anything about her on the Good Keeping website.

The original recipe called for shortening, but I've been making them with butter for the past decade. I also tend to use less sugar than what the recipe calls for, maybe about 1 1/4 cups sugar instead of 1 1/2 cups. I can't really tell you how many cookies this recipe will make as it will depend on the size of the cookies you shape and how much dough you eat while making them.

This makes a softer sugar cookie, not for you people who like them crisper, unless you bake them longer than the recipe states. It's a good recipe for rolling out to cut with cookie cutters, or you can simply roll the dough into a log and slice. This is also a versatile, basic recipe. If you like a stronger vanilla flavor, use two teaspoons vanilla. If you'd prefer a citrus-y cookie, omit the vanilla and add 1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract, plus a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest. You can make a spice cookie by adding 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice or five spice powder. Mix in chopped pecans or walnuts, add a handful or two of chopped dried fruit. Honestly, it's a great recipe to experiment with and I've probably made it a dozen different ways.

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 TBS milk
1-2 tsp vanilla

Cream sugar and butter well until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another mixing bowl. Add flour mixture to creamed sugar about one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla; mix well until dough is well combined. Shape dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2-3 hours. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 1-2 days easily.) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper. Work with only 1/3 of the dough at a time. Either roll out and cut with cookie cutters, roll into logs and slice, or use a cookie scoop to drop dough onto cookie sheets. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies to cool on wire racks.

Cookies can be decorated with sprinkles before baking, or frosted after they cool.


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