Sugar Cookie Basics

Food, Hometown Cooking
on November 9, 2011

One holiday treat most people can't imagine the season without is the sugar cookie. Sugar cookie basics must start with an easy all-purpose recipe. Try Martha Stewart’s recipe for classic sugar cookies. Cream 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of granulated sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Add one large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Slowly incorporate 2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the butter mixture. Chill the dough for an hour. Bake cookies at 325F for 10 to 18 minutes, depending upon size and thickness. With the holidays busy enough as it is, keep it simple, fun and delicious with these 10 creative sugar cookie ideas.

  1. Chocolate sugar cookies. The sugar cookie transforms itself into a chocolate delight with the addition of 3 tablespoons of Dutch-process cocoa powder.
  2. Cut-outs. The ubiquitous cut-outs are a must on every holiday table. Try something new this year, such as varying sizes of stars only. Roll chilled dough on a cold, stone surface, or try a floured towel for easy transfer to the cookie sheet.
  3. Iced cookies. Traditional icing made of confectioners sugar and milk is a delightful way to finish sugar cookies. Color icing with drops of food coloring or stick with winter white. Try icing stars with white and adding silver or white colored sugar to make a sophisticated tray.
  4. Slice and bake. Roll dough into two logs, 2 inches in diameter. Wrap well in wax paper and freeze for use later. Refrigerate the dough, and it will be ready to slice and bake in a couple of hours. Have fresh, hot cookies all season with this method.
  5. Decorated slices. Slice the cookies about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, and press colored sugar into the slices before baking. Or wait until they're cooked and ice them.
  6. Sandwich cookies. Using the slice-and-bake method, ice one cookie with vanilla or chocolate butter cream—canned frosting will work too. Top with a second cookie.
  7. Ice cream sandwiches. Spread any flavor of softened ice cream between two cookies. For more flair, you can add food coloring to vanilla ice cream when softened. Freeze cookie sandwiches to harden. These are perfect make-aheads since they store for a long time.
  8. Fancy ice cream sandwiches. Roll the edges of the ice cream sandwiches with colored sugar, sprinkles or mini chocolate chips before freezing.
  9. Chocolate dipped. If you prefer shaped cut-outs, try dipping one end of a cooked, unfrosted basic sugar cookie in melted semisweet chocolate. Let cool on waxed paper.
  10. Fancy chocolate dipped. Take that sugar cookie to the next level by dipping the chocolate end in finely chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips or sprinkles before cooling.