Friday, December 20, 2013

The Best Sugar Cookies

The ultimate Christmas cookie!  Who doesn't love a frosted sugar cookie!  These are a must make cookie in our house for the holidays, and we usually gather the entire family around the table to decorate!  It is a fun family Christmas activity, and I think we would all feel that something was missing if we didn't make sugar cookies for Christmas! 

I have tried many different sugar cookie recipes but this one is my favorite.  It makes a huge batch and if makes a nice thick, but soft cookie and is a great cookie for frosting!  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Sugar Cookie
2 cups of butter (room temp, set it out before you make)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. lemon extract (I never put the lemon in)
6 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:  Cream the butter and sugar first , and add the rest of the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients in separate bowl, then slowly add the dry ingredients as you mix.

This is like the equivalent of a double batch of cookie dough, so it is about as much as one kitchen aid mixer can handle.  I love that it is a large recipe because who makes just one batch of sugar cookies!

Chill the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. When chilled and ready to bake take out and set on the counter 5 to 10 minutes to soften just a little before you work with it.  Roll out on a floured surface to desired thickness and cut with cookie cutters.

Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 6 to 8 minutes, but this can vary depending on how thick you cut your cookies.  Ours are generally fairly thick so they take a tad longer but you don't want to under bake them and have doughy cookies, or over bake them and have too crunch cookies... just like the Goldie locks and the 3 bears, you want them "just right".  If they look like they are turning just a little golden around the edges you are probably good to go!

Now it is time for the fun part... Decorating!  We usually use a royal icing or just a powdered sugar icing for our cookies.  My husband likes them without icing so we sprinkle a few with colored sugar for him before baking!  We  also use a powdered sugar icing that uses Karo Syrup and it makes a nice shinny frosting that isn't quite so hard.  Either one is fine to use... whatever you like! Royal icing dries really hard and is great if you want to do really detailed decorating.  We use royal icing when doing party favors or really special cookies that we will be using the flooding Technic and pipping.  The Karo syrup icing we used on our cookies today.  We were baking a lot of cookies and just wanted to make quick fun decorations (we were not going for the "best" decorated cookie award, just wanted good tasting, festive cookies) we just iced the cookies with a butter knife and sprinkled with sugar and decorations! Below is the recipe for both if you want to give them a try.
Royal Icing
3 TBS. Maringue Powder
4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners sugar
6 TBS. warm water
1 tsp. vanilla 
1/2 tsp. almond extract
(will make about 3 cups of icing)

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at a low speed with a heavy duty mixer, or 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).

For stiffer icing use 1 tablespoon less water.  I usually add more water a little at a time to make it a more spreadable consistency or to flood cookies.

Color with food coloring and spread or pipe on cookies to decorate! Be creative!

Kayro Syrup Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
2 TBS. Kayro syrup ( or any light corn syrup)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 to 3 TBS. milk
Food coloring optional

Combine powdered sugar, syrup, almond extract and enough milk to make a good spreading consistency.  Stir or mix in mixer until smooth. Tint with food coloring if desired. Spread on cookies.

Jessy and I had a baking marathon today!  We made sugar cookies of course, but we also made peanut blossoms, chocolate crinkles, almond raspberry thumbprints, and dipped ginger snaps!  It was a baking palooza in our house! We will have a nice variety of cookies to share with our friends and family while we are out and about visiting this holiday season.  Jessy wrapped some cookies in cute little bags to give as gifts, I will make some plates with an assortment of cookies for neighbors and friends!

Baking is an inexpensive sweet way to share some love with others right from your kitchen.  With a bag of flour and some sugar you can create all sorts of delicious treats, and who doesn't love something homemade! 

Happy Baking,

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