Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe

These magical homemade sugar cookies are the best way to show loved ones you care over the holiday season.  Decorating them is also one of our favorite holiday activities.  It's taken years to perfect the decorating part, but practice makes perfect and that's the fun part! We hope you enjoy making these as much as we do.  Happy holiday's everyone!

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Ingredients

Yields approximately 30 medium cookies or 15 large snowflake cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
 Large snowflake cookies

Large snowflake cookies

Directions

Have all ingredients at room temperature.  Sift the dry ingredients.  In a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using paddle attachment.  This should take about two minutes - scrape the bowl and beat for an additional two minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until incorporated.  Lower the speed on the mixer to the lowest speed possible and add the flour mixture slowly.  The dough will be very stiff.  Do not over beat.

Divide the dough into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least two hours and for up to two weeks (We doubled the recipe so I divided it into four discs.)

When you are ready to use the dough divide each of the discs in half and roll out.  I do not use flour when I roll cookies out as this adds to the dryness of the dough - I place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin with a washable cheese cloth sleeve.  By not using additional flour you can re-roll the scraps of dough and make many more cookies.  At this point I have all my cookie cutters ready and after I cut the cookies out I put the dough back into the fridge to get cold again.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place cookies on the sheets and put in oven for 6 to 8 minutes.  They are ready when the edges of the cookies just start to turn brown.  Do not over bake as they will continue to bake on the cookie sheet when they come out of the oven.  Once cool remove to a cookie rack and rest until ready to decorate. If you are not ready to immediately decorate you can leave them on the cookie rack covered with a linen kitchen towel for 24 hours.

Royal Icing

  • 3 ounces of pasteurized eggs whites
  • 1 pound of confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon juice
 Medium sized cookies

Medium sized cookies

Using the paddle attachment to your stand mixer beat the egg whites until frothy.  Add all the confectioners sugar.  Beat for 10-12 minutes.  This will make the icing very thick and very white. Add the lemon juice and make sure it is well incorporated.    This thickness is good for outline icing.  To thin it out a tablespoon of water at a time until it runs smoothly off of a spoon and pools onto itself.

Use gel coloring for the icing as that is better for true colors.

Final touches

Presentation is everything when it comes to any home made gift.  We have found that this method is both beautiful and practical (as it protects the cookies while showing them off!).  Find some charming baskets at homegoods (or homesense) or even the dollar store. Place the cookies in individual plastic bags which you can buy on amazon and then wrap the whole thing up in see-through plastic wrapping paper and secure with some ribbon.  

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