Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sugar Cookies

I found this recipe in the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and it has become the only sugar cookie recipe I use anymore. I've frosted them with different kinds of frosting over the years. Martha suggests a royal icing, which is good but not a favorite of mine. My favorite frosting on these sugar cookies has been a cream cheese frosting. This year I was lazy and asked my sister for the leftover frosting she had from Cutler's for my cookies. These cookies are really good without frosting too. These cookies do take time to make but they are so worth it. Much better than any sugar cookie mix or the refrigerator cookies.

4 sticks (1 lb) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

5 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt; mix on medium high speed until combined. With mixer on low speed, add flour in two batches, mixing just until incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and pat into flattened rectangles; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week.

Preheat the oven to 350 F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one rectangle of dough to a scant 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes. Using a small offset spatula, transfer shapes to prepared sheets, placing about 2 inches apart. Chill in freezer or refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes. Set scraps aside. Repeat process with remaining rectangle of dough. Gather all scraps, and roll out again. Chill 15 minutes; cut out more shapes, and place on sheets.

Decorate cookies with sanding sugar or sprinkles, if using, before baking. Bake, rotate sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden around the edges and slightly firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with frosting, if using. Cookies can be kept in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed or parchment paper, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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