I love, love, love frosted sugar cookies. Anyone who has been around me knows that I love to make them, I love to give them to friends & family and I love to eat them! My grandmother gave me a baking set when I was very young and got me started with cakes and cookies. The set included four tiered round cake pans – perhaps the most elegant thing I had ever seen – and several metal cookie cutters, which I still have. I have added to my collection over the years and have a very large box of cookie cutters for all occasions now. I have hosted cookie parties (think women, wine and lots of laughing!), sent care packages and made cookies for every occasion you can think of, including numbered jerseys for my son’s football team. You can see that I’m not an artist. In fact, I’m not even very creative. But I do find pictures to copy, friends to imitate and I have long-time favorites that I keep repeating. I’m not trying for the picture-perfect cookies that bakeries make (here comes the cookie snob in me) but these are absolutely homemade, from the heart and delicious!
I have used the recipe, from The Joy of Cooking Cookbook, for at least 32 years! I got this cookbook as a wedding gift. This is the best rolled sugar cookie recipe EVER:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Early in the day or the day before:
Measure all ingredients into a large bowl – use a mixer if you’d like but I just mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula. Then I use my hands to finish mixing and shape dough into a ball. Put it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours so it’s easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For best results, use freezer paper on your cookie sheets, but if you don’t have freezer paper, make sure you lightly grease the cookie sheets. (If you haven’t tried baking cookies on freezer paper you are missing out – I went through years of doing it the hard way before my friend Jennifer wised me up!)
Roll half or a third of the dough at a time, keeping the rest of the dough refrigerated. If you like your sugar cookies crisp, roll your dough very thin. I like my cookies a little softer so I roll about 1/4″ thick. Make sure to flour your rolling-pin AND your cookie cutters as you roll and cut. Roll your trimmings until all your dough has turned into cookies!
Place your cookies about 1/2″ apart on your cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes or until the edges are very lightly brown. I use a special little cookie turner to remove cookies to racks. Cool and decorate. I use a powdered sugar frosting that starts out with:
3 cups of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of softened butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Add milk until the frosting is the consistency desired. Add powdered sugar if it becomes too thin. I like the frosting a little thicker so it holds the decorating designs.
My sons used to help me decorate when they were younger and one day I will make these with my grandchildren. My friend Lisa tells me she makes these cookies with her daughters every Christmas. I hope you have traditions – food or otherwise that you love. If you need a new one, I’d be thrilled to have you make these cookies! Wait until you see the Valentine’s Day version!
Isn’t life fun!