Monday, December 10, 2018

Best Ever Rolled Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies seem pretty simple, right? Just flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs. The ingredients might not vary much from recipe to recipe, but the proportions sure do. I've seen recipes that involve 2 cups of sugar, 5 cups of flour, and only 1 1/2 cups of butter. Also ones with less sugar and flour but also less butter. And none of them seem to have very much vanilla, which should be the main flavor component.

Personally, I'm not a fan of making rolled cookies. Too much work. I'm a drop-by-spoonfuls kinda gal. But Mr Minx had a hankering to make rolled cookies. He even went out and bought a rolling pin. If he was going to do all the heavy lifting (or rolling), then I was willing to go along with it. I even had a recipe at the ready.

Years ago, I had a group of friends that got together at the holidays. One of these friends is no longer a friend because he's a big jerk, but at the time he had a girlfriend who liked to bake. Her contribution to the party that year was sugar cookies...the best damn sugar cookies I have ever eaten. Though I would probably not make them myself due to my aversion to rolling pins and hard work, I asked her for the recipe. It has moderate amounts of sugar and flour, a cup of butter, and a whole tablespoon of vanilla. I think that's the secret right there. They are sugar cookies with actual flavor.

The dough needs to be refrigerated before baking, otherwise it's too soft to roll and cut. But once chilled, it cuts like a dream (especially with sharp, brand-new, cookie cutters like ours) and bakes up into lovely crisp and buttery cookies redolent of vanilla that can be iced or, if you're lazy like us, sprinkled with festive sugars.

Laura's Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda (or dump it in a bowl and stir thoroughly with a fork). Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the vanilla and eggs. Beat until combined, another half minute or so. Turn the mixer off and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat at low speed until all the flour is incorporated, another minute or so, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. If the dough seems too stiff for your mixer, use a wooden spoon and combine by hand.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate dough about 2 hours, until firm. If it's in the fridge for longer and becomes rock hard, allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

On a floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Sprinkle with flour as necessary to keep the rolling pin from sticking. Cut dough with cookie cutters and carefully transfer each to a parchment-lined baking sheet (use a spatula). Sprinkle with colored sugars.

Bake for 6-8 minutes, until firm and only vaguely golden (they should not brown very much). Use a spatula to transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

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