I’m eagerly counting down the days until I have some time off work for the holidays, so I wanted to share a recipe that 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, our baking skills have evolved with years of practice and guidance from our talented mother since that time! Here’s a pic from those days; weren’t we cute?!
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 a mixture of flour and powdered sugar. This little trick prevents the dreaded “floury” cookie and adds a pleasant sweetness to the exterior of the cookie. When it comes to 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. Decorating cookies is an enjoyable activity for all ages! After all, what’s better than time well spent with loved ones AND homemade cookies?!
These cookies are a tried-and-true family recipe loved by all generations, and I hope you will try them. Our family Christmas wouldn’t be complete without them!
Classic Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Recipe from the late Peggy Harvey
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
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. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture. Mix until combined by hand. 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 desired thickness. As noted above, recommend using an equal parts blend of flour and powdered sugar to prevent sticking, rather than flour alone. 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 8 minutes, or until the edges are barely golden. If decorating, let cool completely before frosting.