Sugar Cookies

Christmas, Cookie, Desserts, Tuesdays with Dorie / Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

I baked these Sugar Cookies in the shape of a Christmas tree, because I had this sugar-plum vision that Jeff and I could snack on them while we watched Christmas movies and put up the Christmas tree and wassailed around the house. But then he got a sore throat. And I started sneezing.


So, we did the best we could, given the sneezing and the coughing and the Sudafed brain fog. Instead of a star or angel, we topped the tree with a few flower hair clips. Instead of a Christmas movie, we watched “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” And instead of lovingly decorating the cookies, we ate them plain. All of them. Without even a sprinkle. Because Sudafed gives us the munchies.

Sugar cookies come in two groups: the kind you decorate and the kind you eat. The ones meant for decorating usually steer clear of leaveners and require you to refrigerate or freeze the cutouts before baking. They come out of the oven looking almost the same as when they went in.

These cookies are meant to be eaten. The dough, which includes a little baking powder, goes straight from the counter to the oven, so it doesn’t hold the cut-out shapes perfectly. The cookies are a little puffy, sometimes misshapen. But they are sweet and buttery and have a nice, old-fashioned flavor that doesn’t require icings or glazes or sprinkles.

These sugar cookies are lovely without having to be perfect. Like a Christmas tree with a hair clip on top. Like ditching the bald kid who never kicks the football to watch Steve Carell finally score.

Today, we sneeze. Tomorrow, we’ll wassail.

Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”

Makes about 50 2-inch cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional)
  1. Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
  2. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale.
  3. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a counter, and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours.
  6. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  7. If you are making roll-out cookies: Working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4-inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for re-rolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.
  8. If you are making slice-and-bake cookies: Use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between the cookies.
  9. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

STORING: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

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52 thoughts on “Sugar Cookies

  1. 40 year old virgin could be kinda a christmas movie. Steve Carrell’s character yells KELLY CLARKSON. Kelly Clarkson sings Christmas songs. :)

    Hope you feel better.. lovely cookie christmas tree.

  2. You gotta watch out for those sugarplum visions — life seems to mess with them every. single. time. But I think your simple, unadorned Christmas tree is perfect! And I saw no point in wasting hours decorating these, because they got eaten so quickly anyway. Sorry about your colds — hope you are feeling better soon! I’ve had one for a few weeks that I’m sure is now bronchitis, but I am too lazy to go the doc in the box for some real drugs.

  3. Elizabeth: Thanks! We’re both feeling much better, and I liked the drooping star. It adds flavah.

    Cristine: I think all the laughing helped us get the poisons out.

    Sarah: I love that cutter, too! I found it at a shop when I was out of town, left it behind, regretted it, and called the shop to buy it. It’s HUGE.

    Pamela: Thanks! We are well stocked with Sudafed, Benadryl, Mucinex, and meth.

    Amanda: Thanks! This sugar cookie recipe was so much tastier than the cardboard one I’d been making for decorating.

    Sabrina: Christmas is all about virgins, right?

    Tamy: I like the star that way, too. Much more like the trees we had when I was a kid. My dad would buy them about three feet too tall and then bend the top and tie on the star. Hilarious.

  4. I hope you feel better soon. I like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree look with the a star a bit off kilter!

  5. Cathy: Bronchitis is the pits. I don’t have the sore throat, just the explosive sneezing jags that make other people grab their ears and wish my mother had used birth control one more month.

  6. What a change of plan! I do hope you feel better – sugar cookies must have helped! LOL Apparently sickness doesn’t impair your vision, though! LOL LOL …the picture is worth any great culinary magazine!
    That’s the most beautiful tree cutter I’ve seen, Rebecca!

  7. Vibi: Thanks! I love that cookie cutter. It’s too big to screw up.

    Spike: Thanks! I’ve taken so much medication, if you were standing next to me, your sinuses would instantly clear.

    Cat: Thanks! I don’t feel really bad, just high. I’m told some people go to great lengths for this feeling. I’m such a lightweight.

    Stephanie: Thanks! The sinuses wanted sugar. They sort of took over.

    Natashya: Feeling much better, thanks! I like the droopy star, too. Perfection is overrated.

    Michelle: Sudafed makes me really high, too. I was afraid this blog post would read like “The Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

  8. Happy to hear that you will be up wassailing soon…am all for the wassailing around the house…LOL.

    Cookies look wonderful…Mark ate his without icing also…Matt, however, went with the MORE IS MORE theory of icing…kids!

    Happy to hear you will soon be on the mend…and, of course, wassailing about….

  9. Oh, hope yuo feel better soon! I keep forgetting most of the TWDers are in a different hemisphere and suffering from colds, flu etc. We are enjoying the sunshine down here!

  10. Well, your Christmas tree is lovely as well! I hope you are feeling better! We have all been sick for the last month here…just getting back with yet another prescription for another child now!!!

  11. Kayte: The Continental Crump House is all about the wassailing.

    Kristen: Thanks! Me, too.

    LyB: Thanks! I love that cookie cutter. It’s probably 5 inches. Big enough for lots of decorating, were I so moved.

    Jodie: Thanks! We’re working on it.

    Katrina: I think we’re going to sign our Christmas cards “The Sickies.”

    Kristin: If I have to hear “Yah Mo B There” one more time …

    Julie: That’s our mantra. Eat more cookies.

    Tammy: Quit braggin’.

    Heather: I’m thinking you could use the new Safe Haven laws to drop off sicks kids in Nebraska and pick them up when they’re well again.

  12. You totally have a point – there’re decorating sugar cookies and eating ones. These seem to be the decorating kind, at least for me, but I think I’m comparing them to cakier sugar cookies. Oh, and tomorrow? I want to wassail too.

  13. My son’s favorite way to eat sugar cookies (his favorite) is plain. He’d have been happy as a clam with a batch of your sweet Christmas tree cookies.

    Hope you get to feeling better :)

  14. I have that same cookie cutter and it makes great cookies cause they are big enough to actually see and taste. Tiny cookies seem like a waste. They were good without icing. Glad you enjoyed them and glad you are feeling better.

  15. Judy: Good thing we’ve got those Buttery Jam Cookies next week!

    Sihan: These were great straight from the oven. Perfect for lazy people. ;)

    Dana: Thanks! It’s always nice to have justification for eating more cookies.

    Caitlin: Get your wassail on! The sugar cookies I’d used for decorating were like bricks, so these seem much softer to me.

    Jacque: Thanks! I loved them plain. They brought out the lazy in me.

    food librarian: Ha! Don’t drug and bake.

    Margaret: Yes, I love how big these cookies are! Plenty of room to do whatever you need to … or not.

  16. You’re so dedicated to bake cookies while you’re sick! I love your tree cutter…it has so much character. I agree, these are great eating cookies!

  17. Hahah that cookie tree is my kind of Christmas tree… a little off kilter… Reminds me of when I was a child and my Christmas tree used to always fall over!!! I hope you are feeling better!

  18. There is always that one sore swallow or sneeze that brings the dreaded realization of “oh no, I am sick!” I hate that moment because then you have to immediately start rescheduling life knowing that the next week will not be pleasant. I am impressed that you got the cookies baked (lovely looking by the way) and posted. I generally just manage to wake up long enough between naps to have a little snack and head back to the couch for more sleeping. Glad you’re on the mend.

  19. Loved reading your post. Hope you are feeling better. I think these cookies are great too. Glad you enjoyed them.

  20. I’m quite impressed that you managed to bake at all while taking sudafed. =) I try to avoid taking it since it makes me feel so loopy. But if I get really desperate, it works wonders. I hope you’re feeling better.

  21. I hope you feel better! I have had bronchitis a few times – coughing and all! Not pretty. I am impressed that you managed to bake cookies while not feeling well. Love you photo of the tree cookie!

    take care

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