Matt and I decided to create Homemade Sugar Cookies in a Jar for our family members this Christmas. And, being the responsible gift-givers that we are, we knew we should test the recipe before sending the cookies out. And I am happy to say we found a winner. These are very easy and require few ingredients, so there is a good chance that you can make them with whatever you have in your pantry right now.
These cookies use the creaming method. Now I’ve seen some reviews that say the creaming method is not necessarily the best for sugar cookies, but it depends on the recipe. It worked perfectly here. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare one, or a few, cookie sheet with parchment paper. Soften one cup of butter (2 full sticks for those of you who do not bake that often), add one cup of sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Add one egg, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and, if you have it, one-half teaspoon of almond extract, and beat until light and fluffy again. In a separate bowl, mix three cups of flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix just until all the flour is incorporated. The great news is that you do not need to refrigerate this dough before rolling it out. So add some flour to an appropriate rolling surface, flour your rolling pin, and then roll the dough to approximately 1/4 inch. Cut with cookie cutters and bake for 6 to 8 minutes.
I generally like my cookies on the less baked side, but it’s important to bake the sugar cookies long enough if you want to frost them without them breaking apart. The cookies I baked for 8 minutes were easier to frost. I tested them by touching their tops after 6 minutes went off and it was clear that they needed more time. They did not brown at 8 minutes, but were slightly firmer. Once you remove the cookies from the oven, cool them briefly on the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a cooling rack. You want to limit re-rolling the dough as the resulting cookies will be tough. So try to get as many cookies from the first roll as possible. On my third batch, I skipped cookie cutters and went with pie-wedge shapes to use the rest of the dough. While I do not condone eating cookie dough with raw eggs, Matt can neither confirm nor deny that you could use cookie cutters on the last roll and just eat the scraps.
We found an excellent frosting that I modified based on what I had in the fridge. The recipe is simple – you mix one cup of confectioners sugar with 3 teaspoons of half and half until smooth (you can use milk – just use 2 teaspoons to start). Then add 2 teaspoons of light corn syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of almond flavoring (essential for this part of the recipe). Mix until smooth. The corn syrup gives the frosting a smooth appearance, and you can add additional corn syrup if it needs more liquid. I even added some more half and half at one point. I found I needed three batches of this to cover all of the cookies we made, but the amount you need will depend on your frosting style. You can separate the frosting into separate portions and add food coloring as desired. Matt informed me that snowflakes should remain white, and I, not in the mood to take any longer than necessary, agreed. But if you have additional time, feel free to be creative.
I should have counted how many cookies this made, but it really will depend on the size of the cookie cutter. Needless to say, we got a LOT. This was definitely a winner and I will be making these again in the future.