Good ol’ Chi-Town…my childhood stomping grounds. I’ve been here since last Wednesday promoting Sweet Home, meeting lots of lovely new folks, all with the added benefit of getting to visit family. While at WGN-TV Friday, I spotted the old Bozo set still in place.
Finally got at shot at bucket number 6…any of you remember Bozo the Clown?
Loved that show! I also just finished taping a segment for WLS about making the perfect pie crust. I used to be extremely intimidated by pie dough, but with some helpful hints from Grandma and a few other Master Bakers, I think I’ve finally got this crust thing down. I’m going to share my tips, recipe, and how-to with you next Thursday, November 8th, when the segment airs.
For now, I’m going to post another recipe that’s good to have on hand with the holidays right around the corner. Weekly from now until December 31 I’m going to give good, solid base recipes to add your go-to list. I’ll call it the Holiday Arsenal.
This Super-Easy Sugar Cookie is exactly what it proposes to be, super easy! If you’re not a roll-out-cookie kind of person, this recipe may change your mind.
I used to think making cut-out cookies was a chore. I disliked the struggle of rolling out a hard, refrigerated lump of dough. Then Robin Chess, who teaches kids’ cooking classes at our local elementary school, showed me how she effortlessly makes hundreds of cut-out cookies every holiday season with her students, ages five to eight. Straight from the mixing bowl, she places small handfuls of dough between two sheets of wax paper and has the kids roll it out, no sticking, no struggle.
When she makes these cookies, they go right into the oven—no chilling necessary—to avoid waiting time. For a slightly crisper cookie, I refrigerate them for 20 minutes on the baking sheets after they’ve been cut. If you’re in a rush, though, this step is not essential to a tasty cookie. Ease rules in this recipe, which yields a not-too-sweet, not-too-thick, classic crisp-on-the-edges sugar cookie.
You can use this recipe for every holiday with a quick change of the cookie cutter. So sugar cookies are first in your arsenal, and pie crust will be second. Any requests for the other eight? I’ve got some ideas, but would like to know if there’s any must-have basic recipes you’re looking for. Please let me know.
Super-Easy Sugar Cookies
Forty 3-inch cookies
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
2. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat on medium another 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
3. Add the egg and the vanilla extract to the bowl and continue to beat on medium for another 30 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl and beat on low to medium for 11/2 to 2 minutes or until the dough comes together to form a ball.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two even parts. Working with one section at a time, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Cut the dough using cookie cutters and gently lift the shapes with a spatula and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
5. Refrigerate the cut cookies on the sheets for 20 minutes.
6. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired with Royal Icing.
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 large egg whites (or the prepared powdered egg white equivalent, meaning mixed with water)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Food coloring (optional)
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
2. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl. Beat for another minute or two. The icing should be somewhat stiff (spreadable but not so thin it will run off the edges of the cookie). Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.
3. If desired, divide the icing among several bowls and color as desired using food coloring. Cover the top of the icing with a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out until using.
4. Decorate the cooled cookies with the royal icing, colored sugars, sprinkles, and/or dragees.
For a Cookie decorating primer, see May’s Graduation cookies post.