I have found a sugar cookie I can really get behind. Not just an excuse to have pretty red and green colors but actually a tasty cookie you’d want to eat on its own.
I found this wonderful recipe on Food52. And why shouldn’t it be wonderful? It comes from the mother of the co-founder of the site, Amanda Hesser! I tweaked it just a tiny, tiny bit by adding a bit of almond extract. Sam and I had a blast making them.
A couple notes: The recipe makes A LOT of cookies. The batter barely fit in my mixer. If you’re not cooking for gifts, you may wish to half the recipe. Also, I made the dough a full week before baking the cookies, and it was absolutely fine.
- Makes 80 cookies (depending on the cookie cutter size; you can halve or quarter the recipe)
- 1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- Finely chopped walnuts or sliced almonds (optional)
- Sanding sugar (optional)
- Dried citron or candied cherries, finely chopped (optional)
- A day before baking the cookies: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or by hand, in a bowl with a wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one by one, mixing after each addition, then the vanilla. Gradually work in the flour until a dough forms. Wrap the dough in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Heat the oven to 350 F. Whisk together the egg white and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Cut the dough into quarters and keep three-quarters cold while working with the first quarter.
- Generously flour your work surface. Lay down the dough. Flour again. Roll the dough into a large circle, about 1/8-inch thick -- and no thicker! Use cookie cutters to cut into shapes. It helps to dip the cutters into flour between every 2 cookies; this will prevent sticking. Place the cookies on ungreased baking sheets. Brush with the egg wash and decorate with chopped nuts, sanding sugar, or diced citron -- whatever you like!
- Bake the cookies until they are lightly browned on the edges, 8 to 10 minutes -- I like to turn the baking sheet 180 degrees after 5 minutes to help them bake evenly. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. (Repeat with the rest of the dough.)
- Place the cookies in a tin or storage container with a tight lid and let age 1 to 2 weeks to bring out the flavor. (Amanda says she ate them at Easter, 4 months later, and they were still delicious.)