easter sugar cookies

The big holidays usually call for sugar cookies. It's a big undertaking, so I only have the patience to make them a few times a year. I make the cookie dough and glaze a day before cutting out, baking, and decorating the cookies. I use a glaze rather than royal icing because it tastes better. Glaze is definitely fussy to work with because you have to fine tune the consistency. Too runny and it will all bleed together, too stiff and you won't be able to get it out of the piping bag without a struggle. Learning how to pipe it properly is also tricky, but they payoff can be beautiful, tasty cookies that will impress. 

Sugar cookies

Makes about 24 cookies, depending on cookie cutter size * overnight

Dough (recipe from Williams Sonoma) 

16 Tbsp (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 c (150g) sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c (300g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Glaze (from Cookie Crazie)

3 3/4 c (1 lb) powdered sugar
1/4 c corn syrup
approximately 1/4 c water
food coloring as desired (I recommend Americolor gel coloring)

What to do

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract. Mix well. 
  2. In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Reduce the speed to low and beat until well mixed.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten the balls into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.) Let it soften slightly at room temperature before continuing.
  4. Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets or use silicone mats on baking sheets.
  5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out a dough disk 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheets. Gather up and reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough disks.
  6. Bake until the cookies are golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.
  7. To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients together on the lowest mixer setting. Mix well for at least one minute. Divide glaze into smaller portions for coloring. Add a tiny bit of coloring and build it up gradually. (You can always add color, but it's pretty much impossible to take it away!) See excellent posts by Cookie Crazie about coloring glaze and preparing it for use
  8. Decorate the cookies as desired with colored sugars, glaze, or icing. If using the glaze aboveStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. 

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Holiday Baking, by Jeanne Thiel Kelley (Time-Life Books, 1995).


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