Decorating sugar cookies is a timeless holiday tradition that passes from one generation to the next. Pre-made sugar cookie dough or boxed mix have their advantages but nothing beats a homemade sugar cookie. For whatever reason, sugar cookies made from scratch are more buttery, more sweet, and just overall more delicious. I will not deny that making sugar cookies requires a little more effort on your part but to me, that is part of the fun.
While sugar cookies are no chocolate souffle or French macarons, they certainly have their quirks. To ensure that your cookies come out a success, make sure to take your time and read the recipe thoroughly before beginning. It is important to start baking with room temperature ingredients. This means allowing them to sit on the countertop for 30 minutes to an hour. If you are short on time, butter can be placed in the microwave in 30 second intervals to speed up the softening process. Every microwave is different so watch the butter closely so that it does not melt. Similarly, eggs can be submersed in warm water for 15 minutes to take off the chill.
Batters and doughs made with room temperature ingredients (excluding those recipes that call for cold ingredients like pie dough) are smooth and evenly incorporated. This is especially critical when making sugar cookies because you do not want pockets of butter in the cookie dough. These pockets will puff up during baking and result in an uneven cookie that can be difficult to decorate. Also, allow plenty of time for your dough to chill so that it is easier to work with.
In the end, baking and decorating sugar cookies is supposed to be fun so enjoy yourself from start to finish.
Icebox Sugar Cookies
Recipe from Chow.com
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Royal Icing, for decorating (optional)
For full recipe instructions, click here.