Too many sugar cookies look nice but don't have much to recommend them as a dessert. This recipe makes a delicious cookie, and, another plus, the dough is easy to handle, important for a rolled cookie.
Any holiday is an excuse for making sugar cookies ... if you need an excuse. Older children can make and bake the dough. Nearly any child can decorate them.
Faith Durand's Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
2 to 3 dozen
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest, optional
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1. In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese.
2. Beat in granulated sugar. Beat for several minutes or until light-colored and fluffy.
3. Beat in egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and, if using, orange or lemon zest.
4. Beat in baking powder and salt.
5. Gradually add flour until fully incorporated and soft dough is formed.
6. Divide dough in half and wrap flattened balls of dough in plastic wrap. To freeze plastic-wrapped dough, put in freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month. To thaw, leave in refrigerator overnight and then proceed with recipe. If not freezing dough, chill at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
7. Let chilled dough sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Cut cookies out of dough rolled to 1/8" to 1/4" thick and place on ungreased baking sheets about 1" apart. Cookies will rise when baked.
8. Bake in 350°F. oven for about 8 minutes, depending on thickness. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack.
9. Cool completely before icing or decorating, and store in tightly covered container.
NOTE: The dough handles beautifully. The cookies are quite sturdy after baking. They are delicious without the zest.
Sugar Cookie Decorating Ideas
• Ice with a sugar glaze; then sandwich with Nutella between two cookies.
• Glaze with warmed jelly; then sandwich with another cut-out cookie on top. (Valentines' Day hearts)
• Drizzle with melted chocolate.
• Ice with royal icing and stick on candy dots for decoration.
• Use a glaze made from sifted confectioners' sugar and milk. Paint it on with a pastry brush. It's easier than spreading a buttercream frosting and will not cause the cookies to get as soft. These cookies don't need softening.