MERRY CHRISTMAS to all who celebrate!!!!
I invited my baker friends over for a sugar cookie showdown. We compared the finished cookies and chose a winner….the recipe with a bit of cream cheese was the overwhelming favorite. One daring participant (a gal after my own heart), sampled the cookie doughs as well. She was surprised that the best tasting dough didn’t make the best tasting cookie. Actually both cookie recipes make incredible cookies, but the one with a bit of cream cheese and leavening created a softer cookie which still kept it’s shape and wowed my testers.
We didn’t do any fancy decorating, but instead smeared the cookies with a rich buttercream. I added a few sprinkles to make them festive. You can thin out the icing, if desired, and use it for piping. Make sure not to overwhip your icing if you want to use it a pastry bag.
Here are my tips for perfect sugar cookies:
- Use the best quality ingredients for the best tasting cookies…brand name butter and real vanilla extract are key.
- Have your butter, eggs and cream cheese at room temperature for easier incorporation.
- Roll your cookies out with a minimal amount of flour so your cookies don’t get tough.
- Alternatively, use powdered sugar to roll out your cookies to avoid adding extra gluten.
- Use a large Silpat to roll out your dough for easy clean up.
- Roll cookies to a thickness of approximately 1/8 inch. You can make them thinner for a crisper cookie or thicker for a chewier cookie (you can also use a thicker cookie for a Christmas tree ornament…just make a good sized hole at the top of your cookie before baking). Also baking for a little longer will give you a crispy cookie and underbaking will give you a softer cookie.
- Bake your cookies on parchment for easy clean up. You can reuse your parchment for a number of batches.
- If your dough starts sticking to your cookie cutter, dip the cutter in a bit of flour before using.
- Keep dough cold so your cookies keep their shape. Refrigerate any leftover dough before reusing. You may also put your cookie sheet full of unbaked cookies in the fridge to rechill the dough for about 10 minutes if needed before baking.
- Recipe courtesy of my friend, Kaye
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl till light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder and stir till combined. Put dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Wrap well and chill for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- On floured surface, roll out half of dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Keep other half refrigerated till needed. Using cookie cutters of your choice, cut and place on parchment lined cookie sheet at least an inch apart. Bake 7-9 minutes till cookies start to brown on edges and are firm. Cool for a couple minutes, then remove to cooling rack.
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 sticks (one cup) butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk (use more to thin frosting if needed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- Food coloring or gel, optional
- Mix all using paddle attachment of stand mixer. Add a touch more milk to thin, it needed. Add a touch more powdered sugar to thicken, if needed.
- Ice or pipe frosting on cookies as desired