Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap. – Barbara Jordan
I have a great friend in Ottawa who hooked me up last year with his employer, a HUGE National organization, to make custom-decorated sugar cookies for the employee participants in their annual United Way Campaign. I was asked to bake off an amount of cookies for a couple of his org’s satellite offices in my city.
The timing of delivery was a little awkward this year, as I had *just!!* purchased my non-refundable ticket to go visit my family for a week, and these cookies were to be due the Monday after my return. But, no fear!…I went ahead and accepted the order anyway. Mainly because my parents have a kick-ass, sun-filled gourmet kitchen that is a JOY to work in compared to my sad little galley kitchen with nary a window in sight.
So I made dough for 200 cookies and baked off most of them in Ottawa, and then carefully packed and brought them back to Toronto, where my good friend Miss Kitty and I decorated them all.darn.weekend.long. I missed Saturday night’s Nuit Blanche, but it was worth it just to get these cookies done! 🙂
Below is my tried-and-true recipe for Rolled Sugar Cookies, which keep their shapes beautifully after baking! Please note, however, that re-rolling the scrap dough for these cookies has some pitfalls; the re-rolled cutout cookies will shrink a little after baking and be somewhat less tender than their original counterparts. The shrinking can be lessened by ensuring that the dough scraps are well-chilled in the fridge before re-rolling.
Yield: approximately 5 dozen 3” cookies.
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar (you can substitute up to ¾ cup vanilla sugar here)
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (if you like flecks of vanilla beans through your cookies, use an equal amount of vanilla bean paste or scrape ½ vanilla bean pod into your liquids)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and light.
Or do like I did and just add the vanilla directly to the eggs.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together;
add to wet ingredients in 3 batches, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next.
Cover and chill mixed dough for at least one hour or overnight (I flattened mine in plastic to make it easier for the rolling step next).
Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C).
On lightly floured surface, roll out dough ¼” to ½’ thick, depending on preference.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter. Place cookies 1” apart on parchment or foil covered cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven, turning and rotating once. Cool completely before decorating. Will keep for several days in a well-vented container.
Fruit: Lemon/Lime/Orange/Citrus: replace vanilla with 1 tsp juice of whichever citrus fruit chosen, and add 1 tsp finely grated citrus peel to the dough’s final mix.
Spice: add up to 1 tsp of favourite finely ground spices to dry ingredients when sifting; note that spice cookies will often be a little darker in appearance upon baking. Try cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, mace, ginger, nutmeg, or anise!
Tea/Coffee: add up to 1 tsp of finely ground tea leaves to dry ingredients when sifting. Teas such as Chai, Earl Grey, Chamomile, or some of the berry teas/tisanes would be wonderful. Adding 1 tsp of instant espresso would also be quite the hit!
Herbs: There are some interesting herbs that would make cookies delicious too! Up to 1 tsp of finely ground mint leaves, lavender, dried basil or aromatic rosemary would make these cookies pop with flavour.
Lastly, feel free to combine some of the variations together for a unique cookie experience! Some delicious unusual flavour pairings off the top of my head are Vanilla Bean-Chai, Mint-Lime, Basil-Lemon, Espresso-Citrus, and Lavender-Earl Grey.