I broke up with my sugar cookie recipe this week. It was totally one of those "it's not you, it's me" situations. When I first started decorating cookies I looked long and hard for a recipe that wouldn't spread or rise. A cutout recipe that would provide the perfect canvas for projects like these painted tulip Easter eggs. I found one, the results were great but we just weren't compatible. If you've tried my W+W Sugar Cookie recipe you know that it requires several rounds of cooling the dough to keep the edges crisp and straight. Doable? Sure. But totally high maintenance. Plus, I just couldn't get the hang of putting my butter out ahead of time to soften. I'm not that organized. I had a good run with that recipe, but it was time for me to move on.
Why I love this sugar cookie recipe
These days I'm crushing on a new cookie. And you know what? I think The Ultimate Sugar Cookie Recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine might just be my soul mate. This cookie and I were made for each other. The butter goes right from the fridge to the mixer and the dough keeps its shape perfectly with one brief chill before rolling. And they taste great! What's not to love?
So, the Ultimate Sugar Cookie now has the top spot in my core recipes section. [ UPDATE: I've been making adjustments to this recipe and instructions. I've renamed it Jes Best Cutout Cookies ] You can still find the w+w Sugar Cookies in the archives. We may not be an item anymore but we're still friends.
Tips,Techniques + Takeaways
With my new recipe these painted tulip Easter egg cookies came together in a snap. The painting part took a little longer though. I can cut in against the trim of a room and roll a wall like the pros, but tulips? That took some training. And practice. I'm loving the look of watercolor right now so that's where I sought out inspiration. This tutorial from Jay Art gave me the basics for a simple tulip. Once I had a plan I could relax and have some fun. Before long I had pink and purple buds all over the kitchen counter. So pretty!
Jes Best Cutout Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen cutout cookies (depending on size)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup sugar
1 large free-range egg
1 large free-range egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract
Sift 3 cups flour, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on high speed until well combined (butter does not need to be fluffy), about 3 minutes.
Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla; beat just to combine. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients. Mix until dough comes together.
Separate dough in half and form two smooth discs for rolling.
Roll each disc to desired thickness (1/8"-1/4") between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper on a Silpat mat or flexible cutting mat. Continue to flour top of dough so parchment doesn't stick or crease.
Transfer mat and rolled dough to refrigerator to chill for about 2 hours.
When ready to cut shapes, flip chilled dough so floured side is down. This will help cookies "release" easily.
Cut dough to desired shapes and place on baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
Re-roll scraps only once to avoid tough cookies. If dough becomes soft and sticky, return to fridge to chill until shapes cut easily. Chill again until ready to bake. Ideally, 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325º
Bake until edges are slightly golden, about 12–16 minutes, depending on size. Rotate sheet pans half way through to avoid dark edges.
Let cookies cool slightly on pans then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Do Ahead: Cookies can be baked (left undecorated) 2 weeks ahead; separate cookies with wax paper, place in air tight containers and freeze.
Jes Best Royal Icing
Makes enough to decorate 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size
970 g [2 lb bag] confectioners' sugar, no need to sift
80g [or 8-10 tablespoons] meringue powder (CK or Henry & Henry)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (to keep icing bright white)
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons water
Food coloring (optional)
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix sugar, meringue powder and cream of tartar on low for just a bit to incorporate evenly.
Slowly add 1/2 cup water while mixing at a low speed. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is just wet.
Scrape sides of the mixing bowl. Increase speed one notch (#2 on Kitchenaid stand mixer). Mix for five minutes. When finished icing should have a matte (not glossy) finish and hold it's shape on the paddle when pulled up/out of the bowl.
Separate into clean, oil-free containers and tint with gel food coloring.
This recipe yields "stiff" consistency for piping details. Add water as needed to achieve flooding consistency.
Keep covered tightly and store for up to a week in a cool dry place or 10 days in the refrigerator. Mix well when ready to use.