If you know me then you know I have a weakness for sugar cookies. My favorite being a soft with frosting. Now most sugar cookie recipes are pretty standard. Nothing fancy to them really. But what I like about my cookies is the touch of pure almond extract I add to them. Not the artificial flavoring either. During the Christmas season I always make a few batches of spritz cookies... you know, the cookies you use a press with. It is a simple almond dough but designed to be used in a press. My family loves them. So it only made sense to add just a hint to my sugar cookies!
I know what you're thinking about now.... "sounds great but rolling dough is a mess". Right? Well I agree. My Mother, being a fabulous woman in the kitchen taught me years ago that any dough you chill will do so faster if it's flattened. This is what makes all the difference in your cookies. After your dough is prepared and ready to be chilled, lay out parchment paper on your counter and place your dough on it. Then cover the dough with another sheet of parchment paper and begin rolling it out. If you don't have parchment paper wax paper should work just fine. Now I like thicker cookies so I try to keep my dough around 1/3 to 1/2 inches thick. The other great benefit to rolling out on parchment paper is no additional flour has been added to your dough. This step cuts your chill time from an hour down to approximately 30 minutes. Just enough time to clean your mess and prepare to cut out your cookies.
So are you ready to make the best cut-out cookies ever? Here we go!
Serves: Depends on the size of your cut-outs but you should get at least 3 dozen good size cookies.
What you need:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups of flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Decorations or frosting ( I prefer the frosting)
- Royal Icing (recipe below)
So lets get to mixing:
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. I do not pre-sift my flour, however my Mom says it actually makes a slight difference in the measurement. Do whatever you're comfortable with. Set this mixture aside until you're ready to add it to the wet mixture.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, The time varies depending on your mixer. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix until combined. Now I know your asking about if you add the extra extract will you need to decrease the vanilla? Nope! What's a good sugar cookie without Vanilla? Then it would only be an almond cookie!
- This step is what really makes the difference in your preparation. Roll out your dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Wax paper will work too, just be careful not to tear it. Lay your rolled out dough onto a baking sheet and place it in your fridge. This not only makes it easier to use, it also shortens your chill time to approximately 30 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and only remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Cut your shapes out directly on the dough still with one sheet of paper underneath. Carefully remove the waste (the dough left between cutouts) and your first sheet of cookies is ready to bake. If you are only adding colored sugar to your cookies now is when you sprinkle it on. I bake them for 8-11 minutes however, this time will vary depending on your oven. You want to keep an eye on them baking to regulate your baking time. You want to remove them just shy of brown edges. Allow them cool on your baking sheet for 3 minutes then remove to a cooling rack. They continue to bake on the sheet so transfer them as soon as you are able to move them without breaking the cookies. Don't be alarmed that they are not done when you remove them. They firm up after they cool.
- Frost your cookies once they are completely cool so your frosting does not slip off. Royal icing isn't a frosting with a sweet taste, or for that matter not really a taste at all so the cookie is the real show stopper here. If you are a wiz at royal icing (I am jealous) I bet you can go to town decorating yours. I stress over the whole keep your frosting covered from air with saran wrap. I did better this time than in the past. The key really is keeping the saran wrap pressed directly on top of the frosting rather than just over the bowl. Practice really does make perfect when your working with royal icing! See my bowls below with the wrap touch the icing.For your Royal Icing Click here for the recipe I use. It is the best I have found and she has a whole section of FAQ.