I LOVE sugar cookies! Just the right amount of sweet, soft and delicious and they go with any occasion! We have quite a few cookie cutters for any holiday and season. My favourite is topping them with sprinkled sugar. My kids prefer icing and bigger sprinkles. My husband just likes them plain. We have big cookie cutters and mini ones. This was the first time we tried minis and they turned out so well I figured it was about time to post the recipe I have been using for over a decade. The key to these is to not over flour or over mix and to refrigerate for the solid hour or so that it calls for. That will help them keep shape and bake well.
1 1/2C Butter, softened (real butter is key here, not margarine)
1tsp Vanilla (real vanilla is best in these, not artificial)
5C All purpose flour
2tsp baking powder
Extra flour for your work surface
Parchment paper for baking
Sprinkles, sugar or other options for decorating
Start by beating the butter until creamy. Soft butter helps the sugar to incorporate better. Next, add the sugar. Beat until fluffy and light. Beating the butter and sugar long enough is key to really good dough. Add in the eggs, one at a time, careful to not get any shells in the mix. Then add in your vanilla. Beat until combined. Ideally, you mix your dry ingredients separately then add slowly, but I don’t love doing extra dishes, so I tend to add my dry ingredients right to the bowl. While I have the mixer going, I add the salt, then the baking powder. Then, I slowly add the flour, one cup at a time so it can mix in well. I usually have to scrape the sides of the bowl down half way during adding the flour. Mix the flour until combined, but don’t overdo it. If the flour is worked too much it can make the cookies a bit tougher. If you want a smaller batch, you can half this easily.
Once all mixed, separate the dough into 2 balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill for an hour. Fridge, not freezer even if you are in a rush. You can chill for longer than an hour, I often do. I’ll start with this dough, do a few other things, then come back to it well after an hour. If it has been a few hours, I will let it sit on the counter for a few minutes as I get my space prepped.
You will need flour for dusting the counter so the dough doesn’t stick, a rolling pin and any cookie cutters you like. I have a marble rolling pin and it has been the best tool ever! It makes amazing pastry dough and rolls cookies out so smooth.
Take your baking tray and line it with parchment paper. This helps remove the cookies from the tray easier and avoids melted sugar or sprinkles on your baking tray! Preheat the oven to 400F.
Start by unwrapping one ball of dough. Knead it a few times on your floured surface to make sure it holds together well and it’s warmed up a bit. Don’t overwork it, especially on the flour or it will make the dough more tough once cooked. Once the dough seems more pliable, start rolling it out. Roll it evenly until it’s 1 inch thick. You can see this thickness well in this picture, and don’t worry, I wash every surface the dough touches!
Take your cookies and evenly space them on your baking tray about 2 inches apart. They will spread a little when baking, and puff up, but they shouldn’t melt too wide. This is why we chill the dough! You can add sprinkles, sugar, chopped nuts, cherries whatever you like to the top, or leave them plain for decorating with icing later.
Once you have cut all you can with the dough you rolled. Gather it back up, and roll it again, repeating the process until all of your dough is used up. I tend to do one round with each ball of dough, then combine them. It helps to keep them at similar temperatures and makes it easier to cook and bake with.
Bake your cookies at 400F for 6-8 minutes. Take them out once the bottom edges turn a golden brown. Watching for that perfect colour is key to keeping them soft and light. They are ok a bit crunchier, but the best way to enjoy and keep them is when they are just golden. The tops will look a bit dry too. Let them cool for a couple minutes before moving to a cooling rack. If you want to use icing, let them cool completely then you can use royal icing which dries or softer icings if not stacking. For easy icing, I happily buy the small Wilton tubes in the grocery store so my kids can easily handle them and do designs. These will dry a bit, but not as hard as royal icing. You can add decorations or sprinkles or sugar with the icing when it’s wet as well.
The cookies can be frozen plain or decorated in a tightly sealed container. To defrost, just let them sit on the counter in the container for a couple hours and they will soften. I do this especially at Christmas when I make dozens and dozens for various friends and family. Of course, as with any cookie, they are always best fresh from the oven! Once you have one bite, they will be hard to resist not taking another!