I took a sugar cookie workshop at my local Sur La Table earlier this month, and I came out with an absolutely fantastic sugar cookie recipe. The workshop teacher said the recipe is all over the Internet as “No Fail Sugar Cookies” and she’s right – a Google search turned up multiple copies of the recipe. I wish I had found it sooner because these cookies are *exactly* what I’ve been looking for – soft and dense with great flavor.
I started by creaming 2 cups of room-temperature butter with 2 cups of sugar. I added 2 room-temperature eggs, one at a time, followed by 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, I mixed together 6 cups of flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. I gradually beat the dry ingredients (about 1 cup at a time) into the wet ingredients until just combined.
My teacher chilled her dough in one large piece, but I divided mine into 4 pieces so it would chill faster. I formed each piece into a ball, flattened it a bit, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in a zipper bag. I let it chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
When I was ready to roll the cookies, I put down a piece of parchment paper (no flour!). I squeezed the dough a bit to soften it, then laid it on top of the parchment. I put another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and then used my rolling pin over the parchment. This way, nothing sticks. I rolled the dough to 1/4 inch thickness, peeled off the top piece of parchment and cut my shapes, dipping my cookie cutters in flour between each cut so they wouldn’t stick.
I placed the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets and baked them, one sheet at a time, for about 11 minutes at 350 F. My cookies were a bit large, so smaller cookies would have a shorter baking time. Check them frequently and take them out just when the edges start to color.
Once the cookies had cooled, I iced mine with a modified royal icing. You could use powdered sugar-milk glaze or even store-bought frosting, too.
These are soft but sturdy cookies with a terrific shortbread-like taste. They make great gifts, too. I’m just learning to ice and decorate, so I look forward to having more fun with these in the future. Let me know if you want to come over and practice! 🙂
TIPS: The very best thing I learned during the cookie workshop is how to roll your dough evenly. The instructor placed two 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels on each side of the dough before rolling it. The dowels are placed vertically and the dough is rolled horizontally so the rolling pin is perpendicular to the dowels. This way, your rolling pin can never go lower than the 1/4-inch dowel. It seems so simple, but it’s amazing! You could use EvenDough bands instead, but a $0.60 dowel cut in half works for me.
Update 2/1/10: You can keep baked, unfrosted cookies in the freezer for up to a month. If you want to eat them soft, just bring them to room temperature. My recent (naughty) habit is eating them crispy, straight from the freezer.
Recipe link: No Fail Sugar Cookies