What to say, because you know believe it or not I don’t always have something right there on the tip of my tongue/fingers worth sharing. Lately everything in the blogosphere seems holiday-related. Recipes, gift guides, stocking stuffers, party outfits, etc…all of it. I’m trying to keep up, and really am not complaining as I do enjoy the gift guides and baking and finding cute party dresses. I just wish things were more spread out, you know it all just seems to hit along with parties to attend and cards to get out and well, the day job and all (shhh, I have one). I’m ready for the floor to stop spinning, for plump snowflakes to blanket Portland, to kick the rain boots aside, crawl back into one of those incredibly comfortable big wooly sweaters I have piled up in the corner of my closet, and head back to bed for a few more hours of sleep. Today my friend Shoshannah and I found time to make and decorate sugar cookies, a rite of passage each holiday season. We had so much fun drinking cocoa and sprinkling green, pink, purple, and red sprinkles and crushed peppermint all over the doughy circles.
There are a lot of sugar cookies recipes out there, and I’m just going to “say” this folks sugar cookies are essentially just that a bit of a butter, flour, sugar, and off you go. With enough candy on top I just can’t tell the difference between one recipe and another. That said, it is important to have a recipe you can trust. Imagine having a house full of friends over to decorate cookies and all you have is something that sort of looks like play dough gone awry. Alice Medrich’s Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies book did not let me down the first time I used it, and it did not this time either so I’m going to share this recipe with you and wish you a lovely afternoon of cookie making tomorrow in your big wooly sweater before I head off to bed. Oh, and snow is actually in the forecast tomorrow so we’ll see!!
Vanilla Sugar Cookies from Alice Medrich’s Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies book.
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
Sugar for sprinkling (or color sprinkles, like what I used)
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or a fork.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. On low speed, beat in the flour just until incorporated. Scrape the dough into a mass and knead it with your hands a few times until smooth. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each into a flat patty. Wrap and refrigerate the patties until firm enough to roll, preferably several hours or overnight. **I let mine sit in the refrigerator for just under 2 hours and the dough was fine.
Preheat the oven to 350. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
To Roll and Cut Cookies: Remove 1 patty from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until supple enough to roll but still quite firm. It will continue to soften as you work. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic sheets from a cut-apart resealable plastic bag to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Turn the dough over once or twice while you are rolling it out to check for deep wrinkles; if necessary, peel off and smooth the paper over the dough before continuing to roll it.
When the dough is thin enough, slide it (still between the sheets) onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate. Repeat with the remaining patties, sliding each rolled-out piece on top of the others in the fridge. Remove the bottom (coldest) sheet of dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top sheet of paper and set it on the counter. Invert the dough onto it and peel off the second sheet.
Cut cookie shapes as close together as possible to minimize scraps, digging the edges of the cookie cutters in flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Use the point of a sparing knife to lift and remove scraps as you transfer cookies to cookie sheets. Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the lined or greased cookie sheets. If the dough gets too soft at any time – while rolling, cutting, removing scraps between cookies, or transferring cookies – slide a cookie sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few minutes, until firm. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Gently press all of the dough scraps together (don’t overwork them with too much kneading) and reroll. Sprinkle cookies with sugar (or color sprinkles).
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until pale golden at the edges, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Repeat until all the cookies are baked.
For lined pans, set the pans or just the parchment liners on racks to cool; for unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to the racks, waiting 1 or 2 minutes if necessary to let the cookies firm up before moving them. Cool the cookies completely before stacking, decorating, or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 1 month.
Yield: makes about 90 2 1/2-inch cookies or 55 3 1/2-inch cookies.