Tuesday, February 5, 2013

THE BEST Sugar Cookies

by Ann

I love sugar cookies.  I'm pretty sure they are my favorite type of cookie.  As a sugar-cookie-connoisseur I have requirements for them to fit the bill to be considered exceptional, which this recipe definitely is by my standards.  My sister prefers a crispy cookie, and my friend Nancie thinks her recipe trumps them all, but I'm sticking with this one, and think you will agree that it is amazing if you like your cookies soft, tender, and rich.    

I originally got this recipe from the book, A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg who credits these to her friend Jimmy who makes them for Valentine's day and calls them "Pink Cookies."  When I read the recipe I immediately thought of the delicious big round pink sugar cookies that the coffee shops at Nordstrom Department stores sell, and although that connection wasn't made in the book, the cookies are quite similar.  I have made a change to the frosting ingredient quantities.  I removed 2 ounces of cream cheese and added a bit more powdered sugar to make the frosting a bit stiffer.  Gradually add the last cup of sugar until you have the consistency you like.  You will probably have more frosting than you need, but is that a bad thing??

I agree that the perfect time to make these cookies is Valentine's Day.  If made at Christmas time they would not be fully appreciated with all of the holiday cookie competitors.  

When you read the recipe don't think I left ingredients out -- that's part of the secret to these cookies being different.  There are no eggs or leavening agents.  The cookies are wonderfully reminiscent of shortbread with the added bonus of cream cheese frosting.

In a way they are easier than other sugar cookies because all of the mixing is done by machine.  I have a Kitchen Aide stand mixer, which works perfectly using the paddle attachment, but my guess is that they could be done with a portable mixer as well.

When the dough is mixed it will be very sticky.  Divide it into two balls and flatten between layers of plastic wrap to about 1 inch thick.  Then stick the discs in the fridge until they harden (at least an hour).  They key to success when working with this dough is that it must be cold because there is so much butter in it.
Divide dough into two pieces between plastic wrap.
THE ONLY type of wrap I use is the Glad Press and Seal.
If you haven't tried it, do so -- it's worth the extra cost.

Press dough into disks about an inch thick and stick them in the fridge until they harden.
Once the dough is hardened, roll it between the wrap and a piece of waxed paper .

Place the cookies at least an inch apart.  If you do not use silicone liners I would strongly suggest that you invest in a  couple.  Even though they are expensive, in the long run I think using them is cheaper than parchment paper.

And the downside to sugar cookies -- the mess....

THE BEST Sugar Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:
3 sticks of butter, at room temperature (unsalted is recommended, but if you use salted, cut down on salt)
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
3 c flour
½ t salt
1 t pure vanilla extract
Frosting Ingredients:
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 T butter, at room temperature
3 - 4 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/4 t kirsch or ½ - 1 t cherry extract (or vanilla, almond, or your favorite, strength dependent upon taste)

Cookie directions:
1.      Combine butter and sifted powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat, first at low speed slowly increasing to medium, until light and fluffy.
2.      In medium bowl combine flour, salt, and whisk well.  With mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until the dry is just absorbed.
3.      Add vanilla and beat well to incorporate.
4.      Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on a large clean surface, and turn the dough out on the wrap.  Gather the dough into a ball, press into a disk about 3” wide, wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour.
5.      Preheat oven to 325°.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
6.      Cut the disk of dough in half, keeping the unused portion in the refrigerator until needed. 
7.      Roll remaining dough between ¼ and 1/8 inch thick.  The key is to have all cookies approximately the same thickness. 
8.      Cut dough into desired shapes.  The simpler the shape, the happier you will be with the outcome. 
9.      Place cookies on lined baking sheets 1 ½ inches apart.
10.  Bake one sheet at a time, for 16-20 minutes, until the cookies start to turn golden brown on the edges. Do not allow cookies to get brown!  Keep the second sheet in the refrigerator until time to bake. 
11.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Directions:
1.      Combine butter and cream cheese in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beating on low until smooth.
2  Add the powdered sugar gradually and beat on low speed to fully incorporate, then on medium to medium-high and beat until there are no lumps, scraping sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
3.      Add flavoring and a few drops of food coloring as desired.
4.      Generously spread frosting on fully cooled cookies.

Store in air-tight container for up to 5 days.

Note:   The key to success with these is working with the dough cold.  If you find that the shapes won't hold when rolling out, stick the dough back in the fridge.  It's a pain, but worth the extra trouble.


  1. Ooo those sound and look so yummy!! I think I will try this recipe!.. Your decorating is so pretty! :)

  2. I would love to have one of these delicious sounding cookies right now with my coffee, thanks for sharing the recipe.
    hugs ~lynne ~

  3. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Those cookies look so wonderful.

  4. ll, but I'm sticking with this one, and survival warehouse reviews think you will agree that it is amazing if you like your cookies soft, tender, and rich.

  5. Ann, the design on these cookies looks great! I'm wondering if this the book Sheila was telling me about last?!?