Ultimate Sugar Cookies

My goodness it's good to be back!  Work has been busy (hurray!), but unfortunately has left me with little time to tend to my blog :( (booo!).  It's been a blast though, I feel fortuate to have a job that allows me so much creative/artistic freedom -- it is a nice change from scrubbing grease chunks off of kitchen equipment and cleaning out moldy freezers...

At Mealtime Market we're  selling Iced Sugar Cookies, heart-shaped sugar cookies to be exact! So I have been busily experimenting in the kitchen for the perfect sugar cookie recipe.  After many trials and errors I have finally found the winning recipe for the ultimate sugar cookie!

I think the thing I love most about sugar cookies are that they are so versatile and serve as a great "base" dough .  You can make use these cookies to make some ice cream sandwiches, or even use this recipe to make tart shells for desserts, or the way I like them best -- plain, with a nice glass of milk.

I have never used shortening in any cookie recipes before and actually found this recipe on the back of a Crisco shortening label, ( I know, what are the odds?) the only thing I changed was that I used half cake flour and half all purpose flour.

I found that it improved the texture of the cookie by a lot.  Anyways, I gave it a shot and was completely shocked as to how moist, melt-in-your-mouth delicious these cookies were.  INCREDIBLE, some would say...  They are best fresh out of the oven, or you can zap them in the microwave for a few seconds for the best warm sugar cookies you will have ever tasted.

Recipe for the Ultimate Sugar Cookies:

(makes 6 dozen)

  • 1 stick or 1 cup shortening (you can also use butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat shortening and sugar in large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla extract until well blended.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture at low speed until well blended.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.

Heat oven to 375F.

Roll 1/3 of dough at a time on lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut dough with 2 to 3-inch floured cookie cutters.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Sprinkle with sugar, if desired (I used turbinado sugar).  Bake 5 to 9 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack ( or your stomach).  Frost and decorate as desired.

I actually whipped up a batch just before Collin left for his first international over seas trip (exciting!), you know, so he can have snacky snacks on the plane!  He actually left me a message a couple days ago on my phone calling from Japan saying -- "Honey, thank you for the cookies.  They remind me of home." Aw shucks, come on now! It really made my heart melt :)

If any of you are interested in making heart-shaped cookies for Valentine's day it is really simple to do!  You just have to get a heart-shaped cookie cutter, any size you prefer, if you are going to decorate the cookies I would recommend you picking a big enough cutter where you have ample room to decorate! Cut and bake the dough as listed above and once the cookies are cooled you can decorate them with different colors of royal icing.

Royal icing is basically egg whites, powdered sugar and a little bit of lemon juice.

Place the desired amount of confectioners' sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat in the egg whites, a little at a time, until the sugar forms a smooth paste.  You will need 2 to 3 oz egg whites per pound of sugar.  Keep unused icing covered with a damp cloth or plastic film at all times to prevent hardening.

I just made pink colored icing -- you can make any color you'd like using food coloring.  You pipe the cookies using either a pastry bag with a fine tip or you can make parchment triangles.  You can also use fruit roll ups, sprinkles or small candies to use as decorations as well, have fun with it and like I always say BE CREATIVE! This is a great project for kids or friends and the best part is you get to share your creations at the end, sugar cookies makes anyone happy :)