My Favorite Sugar Cookies
*Note: the baking temperature for this recipe may seem high but I believe it is one of the keys to success. The cookies still remain soft and light because they bake for such a short time (and they keep their shape really well!).
*Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies (about 2-3 inch size)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.
The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away. Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won't appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don't let them overbake! I find 7 1/2 minutes is about perfect but if they are even lightly browned on bottom, I decrease the time by 30 seconds. I like them super soft with not even a hint of browned edges or bottom. This way they literally melt in my mouth.
Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting. The baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stored in a tupperware or ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. I also often freeze 1/2 of the sugar cookie dough when I don't have time or don't want to roll it out and cut shapes. I wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then stick it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze it for up to a month. (I made this dough in February for Valentine's day and froze half. I just barely used the other half for Easter, and they turned out great!) I take it out the night before I want to roll it out and store it in the refrigerator to thaw (for about 12-15 hours). About 30 minutes before I want to use it, I let it sit on the counter to soften a bit and then I roll it out and cut out the cookies.
Then I used this icing recipe from www.ourbestbites.com for perfectly beautiful and delicious cookies!
1lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 C)
6T whole milk (low-fat actually works, but use whole if you can)6T light Corn Syrup (6T is equal to 1/4 C plus another 2 T)
1 t extract (I use almond because I use almond in my sugar cookies)
With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth (no lumps!) Then stir in corn syrup and extract.
You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. The way it is right now is the consistency you want for glazing. It easily runs off the whisk in a pretty thin drizzle.
To prepare the icing for piping, you just add more powdered sugar. Just eyeball it. You can’t really mess it up because if it’s too thick you just add more milk and if it’s to thin, you add more powdered sugar. I add it in small amounts until it’s a good consistency. For me, it’s when it gets to a point where it’s relatively hard to whisk it by hand. When I pick up the whisk, it still runs off, but in a very slow, thick stream now.
You can tint the glaze any color you want. I left the piping icing white and dyed the glaze. What you do is pipe a border around your cookies. Then let it harden for a few minutes. Then spoon a little glaze in the middle and use the back of a spoon to spread it out. I used a toothpick to get down in the corners. The icing that was piped on should act as a border and keep the thinner icing in place. Once the thinner icing hardens you can pipe a design on top if you would like. Let them harden before stacking and enjoy!
Just with the piping (I wish I would have made the icing a little bit thicker to prevent it from running off the edges.)
With the glaze all filled in. Be careful not to use too much glaze or you will have a flood, like with the tulip on the bottom. Aren't they pretty?