Back in August, I brought you the perfect chocolate chip cookies recipe (according to my biased view, of course). It’s time to revisit the art of perfecting cookies.
Today’s focus: perfect, classic frosted sugar cookies.
What makes the ideal sugar cookie (according to Kailley’s Kitchen)?
- soft, light texture
- flavorful undertones, like lemon, almond, and/or vanilla bean
- moist, buttery, and not too “cake-y”
- frosting that hardens without becoming crunchy and stiff
- whimsical colors, shapes, and toppings
That said, it’s not always easy to find a recipe that gets your the exact results you’re looking for. And even if you do, there are certain traps and hangups that can leave your sugar cookie endeavor looking less like a success and whole lot more like this:
Ever been plagued by the spreading cut-out cookie curse? If you have, then you understand how frustrating it is when, after an hour of rolling out dough and shaping cookies, you pull the cookies out of the oven and they look like mere shadows of their pre-baked selves. That svelte Thoroughbred ends up like an overfed Clydesdale, the Valentine’s Day heart looks like said Clydesdale sat on it, and the snow man gained a few extra fat rolls.
To ensure that you get that picture-perfect cookie every time, make sure you heed my advice:
- Don’t over-mix the dough. Doing so might cause the cookies to become crumbly and dry once baked
- Chill dough for AT LEAST 2-3 hours. Any less may cause the dough to spread in the oven, resulting in thin, brittle, misshaped cookies
- Don’t be afraid of using plenty of flour when rolling out dough. The following recipe has a high butter content, which means it will be a bit sticky when trying to roll out.
- Use flavor enhancers (zest, extracts, vanilla beans, etc), but don’t get too heavy handed. Subtle flavors speak volumes, and add a delicate touch to an otherwise run-of-the-mill cookie.
Frosted Sugar Cookies
- 3/4 cups (1.5 sticks) butter, softened (NOT melted)
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- Few drops food coloring of choice
- Cream together butter and sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy
- Add eggs, mix well
- Add vanilla and almond extracts and mix
- Add lemon zest and mix
- Add baking powder, salt, and half of the flour, mix well
- Add remaining half of flour and mix until fully incorporated
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours
- After dough has been chilled, remove from refrigerater
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
- Dust counter with powdered sugar (or flour, but I prefer the sugar for a little extra zing of sweetness) and roll out dough with a rolling pin
- Use cookie cutters to cut rolled dough into shapes and carefully lift onto parchment-lined baking sheet
- Bake for 7-8 minutes (they won't turn golden brown on top, but trust me, they're done!)
- Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire rack
- While cookies are cooling, add pasteurized egg whites, vanilla, and almond extract to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment
- Whisk on high until frothy, then slowly add confectioners' sugar
- Beat until icing forms peaks, about 8 minutes
- Ice cookies, add sprinkles if desired