Married to Medicine

Married to Medicine

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sugar cookies are what my husband (a lab guy) would call "low-yield."  They take about five times as much work as chocolate chip cookies and let's be honest:  They're not *quite* as tasty.  Even these - and these are soft and moist with a little-something-extra in the cream cheese frosting - aren't something you'd OD on like you would a batch of Life-Changing Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Still, a single sugar cookie (or two) is a perfect compliment to coffee and kids LOVE them.  Plus, they're just so festive; I feel compelled to make them on certain occasions.  Valentine's Day is the big one, but sometimes I'll get a holiday hankering for cute green-frosted trees with ornament sprinkles.  They also make good favors for bridal or baby showers, or even weddings.  Just always, always, always calculate plenty of time.

This Valentine's Day - for Miriam's 2nd Birthday

Hillary's Bridal Shower

Something blue!
Growing up I tried many sugar cookie recipes and most of them failed.  The dough was a disaster to roll out, or the cookies were dry and flavorless.  Then one Valentine's Day in college my then-just-boyfriend's perfect sister Melissa sent him THE MOST AMAZING SUGAR COOKIES EVER.  I remember trying some with Hillary and marveling that my husband's sister was apparently (somewhat unsurprisingly) as perfect as he was, and so were her cookies.  Melissa has a generous heart and has shared several fantastic recipes with me over the years.  I'm delighted to say that this was one of them.  Try them - they roll out easily, cut easily ... they take a bit of time but the work is easy (and fun!).

Soft Sugar Cookies

1.5 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks butter, minus 1 tbsp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional - double if you love almond flavor)
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar 

Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond, and egg.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Split in half and refrigerate both halves for at least an hour but not much more (plastic wrap works great for storing in the fridge).  Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. 

Tip:  After you get it just slightly flattened but still very thick, pick it up and re-flour the surface underneath it before continuing.  If dough is particularly sticky, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, spread with hand, and flip floured portion over onto floured surface before you continue rolling.  

Roll to 1/4 inch thick which is actually sort of thick.  Cut with cookie cutters.  

Tip:  If the dough is sticking to the cutter, dip the cutter in flour.
You actually do NOT need to grease a tray if you use these amazing mats.  And they will bake more evenly too. 

Bake at 375 for 6 minutes.  You want the very, very edge to JUST be turning light brown if you look REALLY hard for it, but *NO MORE*.  Remove and cool completely before frosting.  

** The original recipe calls for two sticks, but I discovered by accident that the dough is even easier to roll if you omit 1 tbsp of butter, and the cookies are not too dry because the frosting moistens and softens them as it sets.

As for the frosting, credit Kelly with the brilliant idea of using cream cheese frosting on sugar cookies for added flavor.  Um, yes please!  Credit her with introducing me to the Sprinkles Cupcakes cream cheese frosting recipe as well.  Mmmm... I use about half cup less of powdered sugar because I prefer savory to sweet.  The original recipes is:

Sprinkles Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter
1 (8 oz) packaged cream cheese
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

(mix together)

To frost the cookies, it works best to use a butter knife and put a dollup in the middle, then gently push it out towards the edges.  Apply sprinkles before the icing has set, so that they stick well.  Once the icing has set (2 hours?) you should be able to layer the cookies on top of each other to transport them, and the cookies themselves should be softer as they absorb moisture from the frosting.  The very best flavor of the cookies will be a full day later once the moisture from the icing has softened the cookie.  They will then taste fantastic for 3-4 more days, and storing at room temp is just fine.


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