The tried and true. The cookie that Christmas wouldn't be the same without. The photo is from when I made them from Valentine's day but you get the idea:)
I will try to show you how to avoid the mistakes that make sugar cookies tough or dry. The two big tricks are to handle the dough as little as possible and watch the flour.
I always double the recipe because if you are going to take the time to make cut out cookies, you might as well make a bunch. These freeze very well. This is the "single" batch recipe.
2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Sugar
1 t Baking Powder
2 t Vanilla
1/2 t Salt
12 T Butter ~ soft
Combine butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar at medium speed. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined and dough forms. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Roll dough and bake at 375 for about 8 minutes.
I did use my trusty KitchenAid Mixer but up until a year ago when I got it, a regular hand mixer and bowl did the trick. Here's your butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar ready to mix.
Make sure your wet ingredients are well mixed. Now it's time to add the dry.
The dough will form and look like this. Put in the fridge to chill. Make sure you chill at LEAST 4 hours, if you don't...the dough absorbs more flour when you are rolling it out and your cookies will NOT be good.
Sprinkle your counter with flour and divide the dough in half.
Push your dough down so you don't have to do so much work with the rolling pin.
Sprinkle the top with flour. You don't want your rolling pin to stick.
Start rolling out your dough, applying even and steady pressure with the rolling pin. Try to keep the dough a consistent thickness as you roll.
Cut your cookies as close together as you can. The less you have to re-roll the dough, the better the cookies.
This is a good thickness for your cookies. If they are thinner, watch them closely when baking because they will cook fast and be more crispy. If they are thicker, they are going to have a more doughy consistency even when fully cooked.
They don't spread much so this is how close you can put them. Bake for about 8 minutes at 375
In my opinion, a good sugar cookie should NOT be browned on the top at all. If you've rolled the dough so the thickness is consistent, they shouldn't be brown even on the edges. The bottom should look like this...lightly browned.
After you've rolled out the first batch, these are your leftovers, set aside. Roll the fresh batch same as the first.
This is your second time around. Mold dough ever so slightly into new ball. Use less flour on your counter because the dough is less sticky the second time around and re-roll the dough.
Save the sprinkle cookies until the end because your pan is going to have some sprinkles left over on the pan. Don't OVER sprinkle because the cookies don't cook evenly. This amount is perfect.
Here's the frosted ones drying and ready to bag.
To make butter cream frosting
1 stick soft Butter
4-5 C Powdered Sugar
2 t Vanilla
4-7 T Milk
Start out with 1 stick butter, 4 C powdered sugar, vanilla and 3 T milk. Mix it with your mixer. Keep adding milk by the T until it's the consistency you want. IF you add too much milk, add more powdered sugar. I've never used a true recipe for frosting, it was an add and adjust philosophy. When it's done, separate into different bowls and add food coloring. If you are using liquid food coloring remember it will thin the frosting a bit more.