I’ve tried any number of sugar cookie recipes over the years, but have been disappointed in every one (and I’ve used many — dozens! — of recipes). I have high expectations of a sugar cookie: It can’t be too mealy or chewy, or too sweet and cloying. I need to taste butter, eggs and a touch of pure vanilla when I eat a sugar cookie. Essentially, my perfect sugar cookie has the flavor of a Danish butter cookie (one of my favorites! I’ve had to ban those tins from the house around the holidays because I can’t resist eating half a tin in one sitting), but without the greasiness or the crumbliness. Well, after being sorely disappointed by scores of sugar cookie recipes, I’ve finally become acquainted with THE ONE.
This past Sunday, we went to over to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house for dinner. While the kids played, my lovely sister-in-law, Victoria, whipped up a batch of sugar cookies using this recipe. It’s a very simple recipe, calling for only a handful of ingredients.
Even though we were busy chatting (and occasionally preventing the kids from wreaking havoc), Victoria was able to prepare the batter, cut the cookies and get them in the oven in less than 20 minutes. As soon as they finished baking and cooling off, I took a bite. HEAVEN! It was exactly what I look for in a sugar cookie: buttery (but not greasy), with just the right amount of crumb and a wonderful eggy, light vanilla taste. They are so good that even though I am finally done with holiday-related baking (until Christmas Day, that is) and could have taken a break today, I just had to make them. So, thank you for finding this recipe, Victoria! I’d also like you to know that you are personally responsible for any weight I might gain over the holidays. 😉
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Two sheets of wax paper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric (handheld) mixer on medium until smooth. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolk until combined. Add vanilla. Beat until combined. Add the flour and salt. Beat until combined, scraping down side of bowl occasionally.
Gather the dough into a large ball with your hands and place it on one of the sheets of wax paper.
Place the other sheet of wax paper on top of the ball of dough, then flatten it into a disk with your hands. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
Once the dough is rolled out, remove the top sheet of wax paper and cut the dough into shapes. Reroll and use scraps until all dough is used. Place the dough shapes on a cookie sheet (you can line the cookie sheet with a sheet of wax paper if you want, but I just placed the cookies directly on the ungreased sheet). If you want, you can sprinkle some sugar on top of the cookies at this point.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until very lightly browned.
Remove the tray from the oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
After five minutes, remove the cookies gently with a metal spatula and let them cool completely on a plate or wire cooling rack. If you leave them on the sheet, they’ll overcook as they cool, and they might stick on the sheet, ruining all your effort!
If you want to make these for Christmas Eve, you can cut out the dough shapes, then refrigerate them and bake them when you need them. The recipe even notes that you can freeze the dough shapes for up to 6 months. Happy baking!