Tis the season…..for family pictures. Our church is doing a photo directory, we do one every couple years. I love have a picture directory, not crazy about having my picture in it. It’s like school pictures all over again with the big lights, the drop screen background, the black stool patched with some duck tape to sit on. “Chin down, lean in, put your shoulders down….for goodness sakes….act natural….now smile!”. Gross. Eric and Anna both look adorable as ever….they both have perfect skin with a touch of olive to it that makes them both tan in about 10 minutes. I on the other hand have pale….pale….vampire skin. It won’t tan even if you stick me in the oven and turn on the convect cycle. Add some bright lights to wash me out even more and well….it looks like someone fed me a couple brownies or a 100 before taking my picture. I’ll admit, I’ve become a photography snob. Not because my own pictures are anything amazing but because I know photographers like Kyle Shultz, Moments in Time, and Brisham Photography. They bring out the best in the people they photograph and make it look natural. I’m so over pictures where we are all posed and looking at the camera, smiles plastered on our faces….to stay….forever. I’m a big fan of photography that looks like someone was stalking my family and I and happened to catch some of our happiest moments together on camera and then kindly sent them to us in a non “criminal minds” kind of way.
So where am I going with this? There’s nothing like studio photography lights and seeing what is a much chunkier version of how you imagine yourself to spur some binge eating. So binge eat I did….on sugar cookies. Oh heavens. Sugar cookies are touchy. There’s an art to making good sugar cookies. I don’t like cake-like sugar cookies like the ones from the grocery store, I don’t like them dry, or crispy, but I also hate when they are so fragile they fall apart in my hand. There’s a chance I’m high maintenance….I’m still looking into that. Enter this recipe. It has the slightest lemon flavor to it, just enough to set it apart from other sugar cookies. Its soft and chewy but strong enough to be picked up while frosting and stored later in a ziplock bag.
Let’s talk tips and tricks to good sugar cookies. Starting with the thickness of the cookie. If you roll your dough out to thin, you’ll have a crispy cookie no matter what. Roll the dough out, leaving it a little thicker, like 1/4″ thick. Think about your cookie cutter. Cookie cutters with lots of detail are really hard to work with. The smaller the details, the more likely the dough will break when you try to transfer it to the cookie sheet for baking. It’s also more likely that the cookie won’t be as recognizable after baking because when the cookies puff up, they lose their shape a little. However, this recipe holds it shape really nicely so your a little bit more protected from that effect. Believe it or not, I have a cookie cutter recommendation. Take a peek below…see how the metal cookie cutters don’t have a defined thickness to them? This makes them super easy to work with. The red ones have an edge on them that requires a pretty thin cookie. The dough gets stuck inside these cookie cutters, it will make you want to swear. Trust me.
Bake time: do not overbake these cookies. If the edges have even the slightest tint of brown…decrease your bake time by 30 seconds. The brown edged cookies will be fine, don’t throw them away. But if you get the bake time right…these melt in your mouth! I baked mine for 5 minutes, yes….five minutes. No joke. It was perfect. I also found that this dough was easier to work with after I kneaded some powder sugar into it, rolled it out once, and then rolled it out again on a surface dusted with powdered sugar. Make sure your surface is dusted with powdered sugar….or your dough will stick to the surface…..and again…you’ll want to swear.
There’s no way around it, rolled sugar cookies require a bit of work. I have another Grandma B sugar cookie recipe that is way easy but you can’t roll it. A post for another time. The good news is, once you get into a groove, you can move pretty fast with these. And for all the trouble you put into baking the cookies, the frosting is a snap. And so good. It makes it all worth it. Promise. Enough said…get baking!
BTW…these are supposed to be Christmas lights. I only made green frosting for the lights though so it’s kind of hard to tell. There’s no time for multiple colors when you’re binge eating.
Perfect Rolled Sugar Cookies
Recipe from melskitchencafe.com
*Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies (about 2-3 inch size)
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.
Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to about 1/4″ thickness. Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for5-7 minutes, watch carefully and remove from the oven at even the slightest hint of a browned edge, they should just be set.
Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Sugar Cookie Frosting
Recipe from whatmegansmaking.com
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk
- Food coloring (optional)
- Sprinkles (optional)
Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Tint with food coloring if desired. Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies. Top with sprinkles if desired. Store in an airtight container.