Sugar Cookies

by Lauren Matthies


I decided to make some simple sugar cookies for Easter this year.  I have been in a lot of pain these last few days so I wanted something simple and not very time-consuming.  The sugar cookies are delicious by themselves, but I include some frosting for those of you who want to decorate your cookies.

Ready to make some cookies...

Notice the dough make look clumpy at first after adding the flour mixture.  Keep mixing, it will smooth out.

Ready for the fridge...

It's okay if you don't divide them perfectly in half.  You could also divide them up even more.  As you will see shortly, I actually don't like using a whole dough half at a time.

Time to roll out and shape the cookies...

I use my rolling pin some, but I also use my hands.  Remember, baking should be fun.  Try not to be too hard on yourself.  You can smooth out any fingerprints later, and they won't be noticeable under the frosting.  Also, my dough usually ends up a little thicker than 1/4 inch.  Differing thickness can affect your baking time, but as long as it's not too thick, don't worry.  I actually enjoy a slightly thicker sugar cookie.

Here you will see that I started using less than a whole dough half at a time.  The dough warms quickly and once it warms it sticks and is hard to work with.  I prefer to take a small amount out at a time.  The ball on the left was the one I was working from.  And the ball on the right was a compilation of dough that became too warm and needed to cool again.

You will notice that the cookies are slightly firm to the touch after you have cooled them on the cookie sheet.  That is what you want.  It will help the cookies keep their shape during baking.

Out of the oven and into my belly...

A couple things to take note of:

  1. The cookies may look undercooked because of their light color on top.  Trust that they are done if you see any shade of brown.  My cookie thickness wasn't completely consistent so you can see the discrepancy between brown on the thicker and thinner edges.
  2. When you look at the bottom of your cookies, they will be slightly darker than the top.  That will help give you confidence that they are fully cooked.
  3. My first batch I baked for 11 minutes, and my second batch I baked for 9 minutes.  You can see the difference in coloring/doneness in the last two pictures.  Both were cooked enough, but you may find that you prefer one taste and/or texture over the other.  Test out slightly different bake times to see what you prefer.  The less time they spend in the oven, the fluffier and softer they will be.

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda, and set aside.
  • Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla to your butter/sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.
  • Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate until firm enough to roll out (at least one hour).
  • When dough is ready, remove some of the dough (see above comments, I find the less I remove at a time, the better) 
  • Roll dough on a floured surface (or on parchment paper) to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (1 cm).
  • Cut out desired shapes, place unbaked cookies on a cookie sheet, and place cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes (chilling the dough will help prevent the cookies from losing their shape during baking).
  • While the cookies are cooling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • After cooling, place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are just starting to brown (see pictures and comments above).
  • Cool cookies for a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Once cool, store (frosted or plain) cookies in an airtight container

Time for the frosting...

I figured I had to taste it :)

I put the frosting in an airtight container to refrigerate because I wasn't planning on frosting my cookies right away.  Once cool, it ends up being a good consistency for icing, especially if you mix it with food coloring.  

Time to frost...

I didn't make anything fancy, because I am saving most of them to decorate this weekend, but I wanted to give you an idea of how the frosting will turn out.  It will look even smoother once the frosting sits and hardens some.  These pictures were taken directly after frosting.  I simply scooped a spoonful of frosting out to make three different colors for my sample cookies.  I stirred and decorated them with a knife.  For the smaller details I used a toothpick.  I stored them at room temperature in an airtight container without problem.

Buttercream Sugar Cookie Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Food coloring, if desired

Instructions:

  • Mix the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and mix until crumbly.
  • Gradually add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency (I used it all).
  • Mix with food coloring and decorate as desired.
  • Enjoy!