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12 Days of Cheer Day 8: Easy Sugar Cookies

December 16, 2012


I have a million recipes for sweets pinned on my Pinterest, and I had plans to make almost all of them this winter. But 1) Who has the time (or the money)? and 2) No one needs all of that butter. NO ONE. So I settled instead to make a simple and delicious Sugar Cookie recipe, which can be tweaked and edited and iced with whatever your heart desires…

You could also cheat, and buy pre-made sugar dough, and try some of the add ins and frosting ideas listed below. I won’t judge.

Easy Sugar Cookies:

recipe adapted from Christabel Martin

Makes approximately 36 Cookies (more or less depending on the size of cookie cutters you use)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (if you’re like me and you forget to take the butter out early, you can also grate it with a cheese grater and use immediately!)

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

  1. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until pale and fluffy, then add in the egg, beating until just combined. Sift in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Divide the mixture in two, shape the halves into disks, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour–this will make the sticky dough easier to roll out).
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper for easier clean up, or skip if you don’t have any.
  3. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of parchment) to about 1/4inch thick. Cut the dough using cookie or biscuit cutters, re-rolling the scraps as you go. Be warned…the dough softens up quickly. You may need to add more flour to your work surface to keep the dough from sticking. Or put it back in the freezer for a few minutes to cool the dough back down.
  4. Place your cutouts on your prepared cookie sheets, approximately 1-1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until very lightly golden around the edges. For a crispier cookie, you can bake them for up to 12 minutes. Allow them to cool on the sheets for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining cutouts. Let them cool completely before decorating.
  5. The cookies will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.

Easy add ins and and edits:

  • Swap out the Vanilla Extract for Peppermint, Almond, Peppermint, or even Orange Flower Water
  • If you add Orange Flower Water, also consider the zest of one orange added to the dough
  • For Chocolate cookies, add in 2-3 TBS of cocoa powder
  • Add in spices–such as cinnamon, ginger, or cardamon (start with 1/2 tsp and add more or less to taste)
  • Add in nuts, chocolate chips, or chopped dried fruit–like dates, figs, cranberries or cherries–and drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake, rather than rolling them out.

Simple Sugar Glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 tsp hot water

  1. Add the three ingredients to a bowl and stir until smooth.
  2. Pipe, dip, or spread the frosting on the cookies

Easy Frosting and Glaze edits:

  • Substitute lemon juice, lemon extract, almond extract, OR peppermint, for the vanilla extract
  • OR Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 tsp and add in 1 1/2 TBS maple syrup with the hot water and confectioners’ sugar
  • OR combine 1 TBS hot coffee with 1 cup confectioners’ sugar for a coffee glaze
  • OR spread with a simple chocolate ganache (8 oz melted chocolate mixed with 8 oz heavy cream), or just melted chocolate,  and sprinkle with sea salt
  • OR Skip the glaze and use jam or nutella to frost the cookies, and make into sandwich cookies
  • OR Sprinkle an additional 1/3 cup of sugar across the batch of cookies and gently press it into dough prior to  baking, instead of frosting
  • OR Dust confectioners’ sugar across the cookies once they are cool.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2012 7:06 pm

    I’m planning on doing sugar cookies this year. LOVE that butter trick! I always forget. And I needed a good glaze recipe. I know I have those 3 ingredients.

  2. December 18, 2012 12:49 pm

    I know. I always skip fancy frosting. Royal frosting–with its raw egg whites–freaks me out, and frosting always seems complicated. But with three ingredients and a spoon, its so simple! I have to say though, the melted dark chocolate and sea salt was my favorite.

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