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ULTIMATE SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE
This recipe yields approx. 20-25 medium cookies or 12 -14 XL cookies.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Switch the mixer to low and add the egg and vanilla. Stop and scrape down the bowl and then continue to mix on low until incorporated.
Gradually add the flour mixture and mix just until the dough forms, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm; minimum 2 hours or overnight. (Scroll down for photo instruction for rolling out dough)
Let the dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling. Roll 1/3 of the dough (put the rest back in the fridge) on a lightly floured surface to a 3/8"-1/4" thickness. Cut out shapes and place them on a parchment lined tray and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are just very lightly browned around the edges. Let cool on tray.
Do Ahead: The dough can be double wrapped in plastic and then placed in a zipper bag for freezing for up to 6 months. Just transfer to fridge to thaw before use.
Baked and undecorated cookies can be frozen between sheets of wax paper in a snap lid container for up to 3 months.
STEP BY STEP PHOTOS FOR COOKIE SUCCESS
STEP 1: START WITH CHILLED DOUGH TO AVOID STICKING
When you're ready to start baking your cookies, pull your dough out of the fridge, unwrap it and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. This will soften it slightly, but it will still be firm.
STEP 2: ONLY WORK WITH 1/3 OF THE DOUGH AT A TIME
Use your bench scraper to cut 1/3 of the dough off and place the rest back in the fridge while you work. Keeping the remaining dough chilled and creating a dozen or so cookies at a time will be much more manageable.
STEP 3: USE AS MUCH FLOUR AS YOU NEED TO AVOID STICKING
Besides rolling on my Fat Daddio's Non Stick Fondant Mat, I use lots of flour. This is normally frowned upon, but I don't care. You don't want your dough to stick, so start by putting down a generous sprinkling of flour. Also, rub a light coating of flour on your rolling pin and on top of the dough.
Then firmly and evenly roll the dough as best you can. It's still pretty chilled so it will be a bit firm. Then give your dough a quarter turn and roll it in the opposite direction until it's about 3/8"-1/4" thickness. Along the way, lift the dough and apply more flour underneath if necessary and add more to the surface of your dough and rolling pin as well. Turn it again as well to keep it from sticking. (Don't worry if the edges are cracking a bit, that's just from the chilled dough.)
STEP 4: CUT OUT COOKIE SHAPES AND CHILL BEFORE BAKING
Cut out your cookie shapes and then remove the dough AROUND the shapes first. This will make it easier to transfer your cookies to a parchment lined tray. I use a bench scraper to lift and transfer the cookies to keep their shape in tact.
Once you get all the cookies transfered to a parchment lined tray, chill them in the fridge for 15 minutes. Then the cookies will keep their shape and come out of the oven looking exactly as they looked going in! (Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes until lightly golden around the edges). Let them cool completely on the tray.
So, here comes the best part. Once cool, you can freeze them to be decorated later by placing them between layers of wax paper inside of a snap lid container. They will store well for up to 3 months. Just bring them to room temperature before decorating!