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Perfect Sugar Cookies

December 4th, 2012 | Posted by Holly Waterfall in Cookies | holiday

It’s the beginning of December and peppermint-filled baking extravaganzas are going on full blast. Peppermint filled brownies, mint chocolate Christmas bark, and red & green swirly thingies. Sure those treats are awesome. Sure, they get you in the spirit. And I’m pretty damn sure something of the sort will end up on the site here in the next week or so. But before we get all fancy schmancy, we’re going back to the basics.

I am 100% not an expert on baking cookies. Refer back to the mystery of the flat cookie saga (which still has yet to be solved). I just can’t seem to get it right. All of my cookies spread out to see-through pancakes with all the add-ins poking through. Pretty ridiculous. Oh, and don’t even get my started on my cookie decorating skills. Let’s take a stroll through embarrassing memory lane and check out my Valentine’s Day Cookie Fail. I can’t believe I’m making you relive that.

Anyway, it’s pretty safe to say that I have no business baking cookies. Give me cake and pie, ice cream and brownies, drinks, smoothies, casseroles and soups. But leave the cookies to someone else until I figure it out.

That is, unless you are looking for a sugar cookie. In that case, oh my, you have come to the right place! This cookie is divine. Yes, it is just a sugar cookie. No fun add-in’s to be had here. But this cookie has the perfect light texture. They are so melt-in-your-mouth soft and stay that way for days.  And the orange zest I have added, gives this tiny refreshing hint of citrus that makes you stop and realize this isn’t just any old sugar cookie. They are the perfect vessel for working that royal icing. Unless, of course, your icing decor looks like a royal screw-up that could have been out-done by a first grader… like mine. These little snowflakes were actually the best of my work, so that’s pretty sad. I attempted something much more intricate, and we’ll just say that I will not be sharing those special little jewels with the world.

Another great thing about these cookies is that they hold their shape. Yes, I only made circles in this batch, but in the past, I have made all different shapes with this recipe, and there’s no spreading or loss of shape while they cookies are baking. They stay pretty much right where you put them, so you don’t have to worry so much about spacing your cookies out or ending up with a wonky looking Santa Claus.

Perfect Sugar Cookies

print friendly version
makes approximately 3-4 dozen

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to 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 (plus more for rolling out)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

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.

Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes (2 hours preferably).  Dust your counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness.

Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Keep in mind that the cookies won’t appear browned at all when they are done baking so don’t let them overbake! (You can lightly touch them to check for doneness – still soft but not gooey)

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting.

If you’re looking for a way to amp-up these sugar cookies, check out my holiday Pinwheel Cookies using this recipe.

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