Monday, December 5, 2011

Easy Sugar Cookies

Prep Time:  90 minutes
Total Time:  2 hours
Yield:  Makes 32


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Assorted candies, sprinkles, or colored sugars, for decorating (optional)


In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks. To ice cookies, spread with the back of a spoon. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes. Decorate as desired.

Cook's Note

Use flour on utensils to keep dough from sticking: Dip the cookie cutters, and dust the spatula before transferring uncooked dough to a sheet. Rolling dough between two sheets of floured parchment will keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.
To make icing, sift 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in 3 to 4 tablespoons milk, water, or lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, whisk in more sugar; if too thick, add more liquid.  *Add food colouring if you like!*

This is a great recipe to put into jars for family members.  Layer ingredients in a clear mason jar, tighten lid, and tie with a red and green ribbon.  If you're really handy, you can cut out a Christmas-themed square of material and cover the lid with it (use the ribbons to hold it in place).  Write out recipe on a small piece of paper, fold, punch a hole in the corner of the paper (you might want to fold it and punch the hole before writing the recipe!), and attach to the ribbon.

It's also nice if children get to paint the outside of the jar before filling.  It's a great (easy and cheap) gift for family members, and a great way to get grandparents to bake with the kids!  (They can make them when they're together!)

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