Classic Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Christmas is going to look very different this year due to Covid-19, but it can still be merry! Some ways I am making spirits bright are by lots of baking, running, Snapchatting, and reminiscing on past years! Truthfully, with an extremely busy toddler, it is hard to let your mind wander too much, and I am thrilled if I get in a successful bake, photoshoot, and blog post! I wanted to update the photography for these classic sugar cookies because the previous photos were a bit lackluster and poorly lit. She the significant improvement?
This recipe reminds me of home and many fond childhood memories. As far as my memory dates back, I can remember decorating (and eating!) these sugar cookies every year during the holidays with my siblings and cousins. Thankfully, my baking skills have evolved with years of practice and guidance from my talented mother since that time! Here’s a pic from those days; weren’t we cute?! I'm at the top of the stairs on the far left. Sorry to Olivia and Tommy; they were not born yet.
The true elegance in these cookies lies in their simplicity. These cookies are buttery and sweet—but not-too-sweet—with a pleasant hint of vanilla. When baked, there is a crispness around the edges but the insides are tender and soft. Before baking the dough, it is best to chill it for at least 2 hours. This makes the dough less sticky and much easier to work with. The dough may also be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to roll out the dough, I recommend using as little flour as possible. For decorating, you have several options. If frosting isn’t your thing, sprinkle colored sanding sugars on the tops of the cookies before baking for a colorful, fuss-free cookie. If you want frosted cookies, use your favorite icing recipe. I have included my favorite buttercream recipe below, but you could also use royal icing. Decorating cookies is an enjoyable activity for all ages! After all, what’s better than time well spent with loved ones AND homemade cookies?!
I hope you will try them. Our family Christmas wouldn’t be complete without them! These cookies are a tried-and-true family recipe loved by all generations and Santa. Don't forget the milk!
Classic Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixture until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at time, and beat until well combined. Stir in vanilla or vanilla bean paste. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture. Mix until combined. You may need to finish mixing with wooden spoon by hand since the dough is very thick. For easier handling, cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Dough may be prepared up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Once ready to bake, preheat oven to 375° F. Roll out half of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. As noted above, use as little flour as needed to prevent the cookies from becoming floury. Cut cookies using shapes of your choice and sprinkle with colored sanding sugar, if desired. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in preheated oven for about 6-8 minutes, or until the edges are barely golden. If decorating, let cool completely before frosting. Buttercream recipe follows.
Small Batch Buttercream
You will want to make a double batch of this frosting if you want the cookies to be covered with a lot of frosting. I personally prefer sugar cookies with a light piping of frosting.
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
Approximately 2 cups powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tsp milk
With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Turn off mixer and add 1 cup of powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla, 2 tsp milk, and the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar. Mix on medium-speed until combined. If mixture seems to thick, add additional milk. If the frosting seems to thin, add additional powdered sugar.
Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy for another minute or two. If coloring the frosting, divide into small bowls and add food coloring of your choice.
Pipe or spread on cooled cookies.
More Process Photos