Sugar Cookies 101

*This post originally ran in December 2009*

There are a lot of mommy skills that I thought would come naturally the moment I birthed my first child. I figured I would instantly know how to change a diaper in under 27 seconds. I thought I would be able to cook dinner, clean the house, play with the baby and hit the gym all in the same day while managing to squeeze in a lunch with a friend and a stop at the library. I also assumed that I would be able to make killer cookies that my child would boast about on the playground one day.

Once the postpartum hormones settled, I realized that such Mommy skills had not been bestowed upon me and that I would actually have to figure out such tricks of the mothering trade. I eventually learned how to diaper a child quickly and I soon realized that accomplishing two out of the 15 things on my to-do list made for a productive day. I also figured out that if I practiced my cookie making skills then someday I would eventually be able to whip out a batch of homemade treats that would make my family cheer.

I have worked furiously over the past four holiday seasons to successfully improve my Christmas cookie skills. I can now confidently carry in a plate of sugar cookies into any school party of moms group cookie exchange with confidence. Allow me to pass along my semi- cookie wisdom.

First, use this recipe for complete cookie yumminess (slightly adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
After allowing the dough to chill for about 30 minutes, roll it out in sections between two sheets of parchment paper. This allows you to NOT have to use flour for rolling out the dough (which can make your dough stiff and your cookies BLAH!)
After rolling the dough out between two sheets of parchment, throw it back in the fridge. I usually place mine on clean cookie sheets, still between the parchment. Let it sit at least an hour or up to a day.
pressed sugar cookie dough
When ready to cut out cookies, peel one side of the parchment away from the dough. Lay that side of the dough on your baking surface (I swear by Pampered Chef Baking Stones), then peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Lightly dip cookie cutters into powdered sugar (NOT FLOUR!) and cut away. Cookies will not stick to your counter because you are cutting them on the baking surface….Genius
The key is to place all cookie cutters on the dough before you actually cut.
sugar cookie cookie cutters
This ensures that you use almost all of the dough in one cutting experience. Place scraps in pile and continue on with next sheet of dough. (Scraps can either be frozen for another baking experience or rolled back out, rechilled, and cut)

sugar cookie cutouts

Bake cookies in a 375 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.

Allow to cool completely and frost. (Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)

Spend the next three weeks discovering random green and red sprinkles in the crevasses of your kitchen.
iced sugar cookies
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