These sugar cookies can be as simple or as decorative as your fancy dictates. The dough is ideal for rolling and cutting into special shapes. Now is the time to get out your favorite Christmas cookie cutters. For an extra-special touch, add to your loved ones' cookie cutter collection by tying one or two cutters with gold ribbons to the cookie tins when you give the cookies as gifts.
|bleached all-purpose flour||2-1/4 cups (dip and sweep method)||11.25 ounces||320 grams|
|sugar||3/4 cup||5.25 ounces||150 grams|
|unsalted butter||12 tablespoons||6 ounces||170 grams|
|1 large egg||3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon||1.75 ounces||50 grams|
|lemon zest||1 tablespoon (finely grated)||*||6 grams|
|pure vanilla extract||1 teaspoon||*||4 grams|
|3 large egg whites||3 fluid ounces||3 ounces||90 grams|
|powdered sugar||4 cups (lightly spooned into the cup)||1 pound (16 ounces)||460 grams|
Equipment: nonstick or buttered or greased cookie sheets; rolling pin; cookie cutters
Food Processor Method
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
In a food processor with the metal blade, process the sugar until very fine. Cut the butter into a few pieces and add it with the motor running. Process until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and process until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and pulse in just until incorporated. If the mixture seems dry, add a few droplets of water and pulse in just until the dough begins to clump together.
Electric Mixer Method
Soften the butter. In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat until blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. On low speed, gradually add them to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated. Add water, a few drops at a time, only until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.
For Both Methods
Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap, not your fingers, to press the dough together to form a thick flat disc. Wrap it well and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably no longer than 3.
Place 2 over racks in the upper and lower thirds of the over. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a one-eighth-inch thickness. Cut shapes using your favorite Christams cookie cutters or homemade cardboard patterns or even freehand. With a small, angled metal spatula or pancake turner, transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets. If desired, paint the cookies with Edible Tempera Color. If you are planning to hang the cookies, make small holes with the blunt end of a wooden skewer.
Reroll the scraps, chilling them first, if necessary.
Bake for 8 to 12 minutes of until the cookies being to brown around the edges. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and bront to back halfway through the baking period.
Use a small angled metal spatula or pancake turner to tranfer the cookies to wire racks to cool before decorating with Royal Icing, dragees, sprinkles, and glittering holiday edibles.
Store: In an airtight container at room temperature.
Keeps: For several months.
Edible Tempura Color
Lightly beat 2 large egg yolks and spoon equal amounts of them into 5 small bowls or cups. Use liquid food coloring to color each mixture. For yellow, use 1/2 teaspoon of yellow,; for red, use 1/2 teaspoon of red; for green, use 1/4 teaspoon of green; for blue, use 1/4 teaspoon of blue; for black, use 1-1/2 teaspoons of green, 1-1/2 teaspoons of red, and 5 drops of blue.
Use a small clean paintbrush to paint the designs on the cookies before baking.
This recipe has an excellent consistency for piping. For painting, thin the icing with water.
In a large mixing bowl, place the egg whites and powdered sugar and beat, preferable with the whisk beater, at low speed, until the sugar is moistened. Beat at high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form when the beater is lifted (5 to 7 minutes). The tips of the peaks should curve slightly. If necessary, more powdered sugar may be added. Keeps 3 days in a n airtight container at room temperature. Rebeat lightly.
Royal Icing with Meringue Powder
Replace the egg whites with 3 tablespoons of meringue powder and 3 fluid ounces (6 tablespoons) of warm water (this is approximately the amount of water contained in the eggs). Processd as for basic Royal Icing. Keeps 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. Rebeat lightly.
- Cookies can be rolled to a one-quarter inch thickness and underbaked slightly for a softer, chewier cookie.
- If the dough cracks while rollikng it, cut it in quarters and allow it to sogten until it is more malleable before continuing.
- Allow the cookie sheets(s)s to cool completely beforee using for the next batch.
- Distribute the cookies evenly around the cookie sheet. Avoid crowding the cookies into one section of the cookie sheet, leaving a large area bare.