We are deep in the midst of summertime and already my long list of family friendly home activities has become very, very short.
So today I scheduled us a little baking lesson. The results: Cookies!
Simple and sweet, sugar cookies are a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. With few ingredients that incorporate some of the basics of baking, sugar cookies are just plain fun and delightfully delicious.
There are no limitations to decorating, and many ways to mix in more sophisticated flavors, like lavender, rose petals and even chilies.
Makes approx. 3 dozen 3 -inch cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 10 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth.
Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about two minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated. You do not want to overwork the dough.
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 (the diameter is up to you – I usually like cookies that are about 3 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you're going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least two hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to two months.)
Getting Ready to Bake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
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 ¼ 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 – I like a 3-inch round cookie cutter for these. The kids picked out a corrugated heart shape, however.
Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1½ 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.
If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 8 to 12 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 about five minutes before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
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 a week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to two months.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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