Baking cookies is a tradition that many share over the holiday season. One of my absolute favorite cookies to bake is this simple sugar cookie dough. My house fills with the warm aroma of vanilla, butter and sugar that remind me of a big cozy hug. These cookies are so good that I usually double the batch. I make one batch for me to decorate how I please, and the second batch for my boys to decorate in their own interpretation of the holiday season. This year I suspect we will have holiday cookies in the shape of airplanes, sharks, and Star Wars characters. Letting the kids explore their creativity and make their own cookies creates fun memories, and an added bonus, delicious cookies! Have fun and make some cookies to share today.
Andrea’s Best Sugar Cookies
1 stick of butter (half a cup)3/4 cup sugar 2 vanilla beans 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt Decorative sugar (I use a mixture of green, red, and white for Christmas. I also prefer the larger granulated sugars, looks prettier and holds up better during baking.)
In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With a knife halve vanilla beans lengthwise. Using the back side of a knife, scrape seeds into butter sugar mixture. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until well combined. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixture and beat until just combined.
On a large sheet of parchment or wax paper form dough into a 10-by-2-inch log. Chill dough until firm. (I like to chill mine overnight to really get a fantastic vanilla flavor.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place decorative sugar on a platter. Remove paper from cookie dough and roll log in sugar. Cut log crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices. Roll in more sugar after slicing if necessary. Arrange cookie slices 1/2 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are golden. Please let cookies cool before enjoying to avoid scalding the roof of your mouth.
This recipe is also perfect for rolling out into your favorite holiday shape.
Editor’s note: this is a best-of A News Cafe column that originally ran December 12, 2008.
Andrea Charroin is a trained baker and pastry chef. She worked in San Francisco before she, her husband, Westley, and their two sons moved to Redding. They fell in love with Redding’s downtown and opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie.