Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Soft Sugar Cookies

What would Christmas time be without some delicious sugar cookies? There are many sugar cookie recipes out there, but these ones top them all. They are soft, and delicious with a hint of almond. I think every baker needs a go to sugar cookie recipe. One for all those cookie decorating moments, and really lets be honest who doesn't love a delicious sugar cookie! If you are in need of a good sugar cookie recipe this season look no further!

Soft Sugar Cookies

*Note: the baking temperature for this recipe may seem high but I believe it is one of the keys to success. The cookies still remain soft and light because they bake for such a short time (and they keep their shape really well!).

*Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies (about 2-3 inch size)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

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.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away. Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won’t appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don’t let them overbake! I find 7 1/2 minutes is about perfect but if they are even lightly browned on bottom, I decrease the time by 30 seconds. I like them super soft with not even a hint of browned edges or bottom. This way they literally melt in my mouth.

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting. The baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stored in a tupperware or ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. I also often freeze 1/2 of the sugar cookie dough when I don’t have time or don’t want to roll it out and cut shapes. I wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then stick it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze it for up to a month. I take it out the night before I want to roll it out and store it in the refrigerator to thaw (for about 12-15 hours). About 30 minutes before I want to use it, I let it sit on the counter to soften a bit and then I roll it out and cut out the cookies.

To top these cookies you could use this fabulous Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting. On this specific batch I used browned butter glaze. I used a combination of a 2 tbs browned butter,  2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup cream, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tbs almond extract. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. I used the glaze when it was still warm and simply dunked the cookies in the glaze and sprinkled some sprinkles on (just cause I love sprinkles). Both options are delicious so whichever one you choose your cookies will be to die for!

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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