|Jen gave us these awesome Kansas tea towels. I'm using mine for the first time when I host PEO at my house today!|
It seems all the professional cookie decorators use royal icing. It does make a beautiful cookie. But I'm a fan of actually using good-tasting frosting, so I used a buttercream to ice the cookies. I like using both vanilla and almond flavorings to boost the yumminess. And it's always fun to bring out my arsenal of sprinkles, too. (I used a chocolate disc in the middle of each sunflower cookie. You could also use chocolate chips or chocolate stars.)
Both Jill and I highly recommend this cookie recipe if you're looking to make cut-out sugar cookies. Enjoy!
But, first, a little bit of housekeeping: Mary Jo Taylor was the winner in my blog anniversary drawing. She chose to receive my book, "Count on It! Adventures from a Kansas Farm." Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments!
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction blog3/4 cup salted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla (or vanilla bean paste)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Using a stand mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth, about 1 minute. (Note: Don't melt the butter. Just have it softened to room temperature.) Add the sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl to make sure the sugar and butter are well incorporated. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract; beat on high until fully combined. Again scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add about half the mixture, just mixing until it's barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined.
Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion onto a piece of parchment paper to about 1/4-inch thickness. Put on a baking sheet and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Don't skip the chilling step!
Once chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Use cookie cutters to cut as desired. If you are using a medium-sized cookie cutter (like the largest sunflower cutter in the photos above), it makes about 18 cookies. The heart cutters were smaller, so that translated to more cookies.
Bake for 9 to 12 minutes until very lightly colored on top and around the edges. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Frost as desired, using buttercream icing and sprinkles.
Quick Vanilla Buttercream
Recipe from Food Network3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (I used 1/2 tsp. of each)
1 to 2 tbsp. whipping cream
In a standing mixer, mix together butter and shortening. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, incorporating after each addition. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla (or almond) and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
Color the icing and decorate as desired.
- If you want, you can sprinkle the raw cutouts with colored sugar before baking. Then they are decorated without frosting.
- I am not a royal icing fan, but you could use a royal icing to frost these cookies. For a recipe for that, check out Sally's Baking Addiction. (Note: I did not try her frosting recipe).
- I doubled the recipe, using my Kitchenaid mixer. I would NOT try to triple the recipe because it would be difficult to get the cookie dough mixed. (Jill said she tried tripling at Christmas and it didn't work. So we are saving you the trouble!) When doubling the recipe, I divided the dough into four parts and rolled each part to 1/4-inch thickness.
- I am a big fan of vanilla bean paste. It's expensive, but it provides lots of flavor.
- If you want step-by-step photos, Sally's Baking Addiction has those for you.