10 December 2008

Sugar Cookies

There is a photo somewhere floating around in a photo box in my house (and for the life of me I can't find it, or else I would have scanned it and included it here). It is a picture from an office holiday party, back in my college days. There is a lone subject in the picture, a sweet college-aged girl with her unruly curly hair in a loose ponytail, sitting in a recliner. She's wearing a festive sweater with reindeer on it, and there is a large Tupperware tub full of sugar cookies perched on her lap. She has a huge smile on her face, she's actually laughing to be honest, in fact her face is kinda red from laughing so hard. She's looking at someone off to the side, waving a pretty, perfect, frosted (and be-sprinkled) sugar cookie in her hand.

Now let me tell you the story behind that picture: this was my darling coworker, who had just spent 15 minutes in front of an audience of all our other coworkers, trying everything in her power to break one of the (Nemmie-made) super-Teflon sugar cookies.

Yes, to somehow get a piece or chunk or heck, even a crumb to fall off one of those cookies. You see, the cookies were sure pretty and kept their shape and decorated like a dream, but ah... Were not edible. At all. And this poor girl spent all night trying to get a piece off of just one cookie. My cookies that year, they were the talk of the party let me tell you. Not in a good way. I was totally a sucky baker in college.

Since that time, I have much matured (in many ways). Thankfully, I have also found a much better sugar cookie recipe. I have tried many, believe me: you know how a lot of recipes are either pretty when decorated but too hard/tasteless to enjoy eating? Or on the flip side: taste good, but the shapes spread while baking and you're stuck with 48 undecipherable blobs? Well, this is truly the best sugar cookie recipe I've ever used: they never spread. They taste yummy (it's the citrus, methinks). And they aren't rock hard, the biggest factor of all for me. Total win!

Sugar Cookies
(from Williams Sonoma)

1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest (don't like zest? Try 2 tsp. vanilla paste)
1 large egg
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Royal icing for decorating

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, combine the butter, granulated sugar, and zest and pulse until creamy. Add the egg and pulse 5 or 6 times until fluffy and blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the food processor and process until blended, about 45 seconds. Add the remaining flour in two batches, processing after each addition until the dough is smooth.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, shape into a ball, and then roll out 1/8-inch thick (you can also chill the dough for about half an hour if you'd like, it helps in rolling out the dough). Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes. Then, using a spatula, transfer the cutouts to the baking sheets. Gather up the dough scraps, form into a ball, roll out and cut more shapes, and add to the baking sheets.

Bake until lightly browned on the bottom and pale golden on top, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to the racks alone to cool completely.

Decorate the cooled cookies with royal icing, chocolate ganache, sprinkles, etc. etc. etc.


Danielle said...

I love the story... that is awesome. I just made some of these yesterday and they definitely fall in the hard and tasteless category, so I'll have to keep these in mind next time I'm up for trying.

Quick question -- did you have to refrigerate the dough at all, and how long?

Anonymous said...

Ah I've seen a few recipes in the past with the little edible metallic balls. Do you know any store that carries them or the type of store I could find them in? They aren't in any of my regular grocery stores:/

Snooky doodle said...

I enjoyed reading your story :) These cookies look awesome ! Wish i could make nice looking ones like these :)

Anonymous said...

I like nutmeg in sugar cookies - too bad it doesn't come in white, but the taste more than makes up for the wee specs of brown. These sound good. Christmas isn't Christmas without decorated sugar cookies.

Julie said...

Nems I am so glad I live further away. Baby R & I would be having a feast on your desserts!

Nemmie said...

Danielle - yup, sorry. I don't always, but the dough works better if you refrigerate it about half an hour.

ariellariell - I got mine @ Fancyflours.com, I agree: hard to find in "the wild" of regular grocery stores. Try a Dean & DeLuca if you have one nearby... Good luck on the hunt!

Thanks Snooky doodle!

Julie - you're welcome to stop by anytime you're around, have some cookies. We'll all snack on them together :)

Anonymous said...

If I don't have a food processor, can I just use my Kitchenaid instead? I want to try and make these for a Christmas-Movie-Night this week! :)

Anonymous said...

Yummy! We're baking them right now. My only problem is keeping the kids out of the dough. (We doubled it, by the way.)

I just used my Kitchen Aid and it came out fine.

I'm not sure what temperature my oven should be set at, so we're trying 350 degrees.


Anonymous said...

Made these today, baked at 350 degrees F. Frosted with some lemony icing. They were a hit! Thanks!

Nemmie said...

Yikes, sorry! I have fuzzy brain - 350 F is right. I'll add it...

Aparna said...

Yummy, delicious sugar cookies, I love it.

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