Look, I'll be honest, I don't bake much. I'm just not that talented when it comes to baking--it's as simple as that--so when I find a recipe I can bake then I know even the most baking-impaired can do it.
Sugar cookies to me are quite possibly the easiest to learn and a great base to create recipes of your own.
Now, hold on, stop staring at me like that. I know, I know...baking measurements have to be super precise. I get it. But that doesn't mean you can't spice up your own sugar cookies (literally) with things like cinnamon, ground ginger, lemon zest, different extracts...
Take for instance this recipe I made today. I used one of Alton Brown's flawless recipes (which can be found at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sugar-cookies-recipe/index.html) as a base and added 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. of ground ginger, and I must say, it makes incredibly delicious cookies perfect for the fall season.
I made a really simple glaze to coat the cookies with powdered sugar, a little bit of milk, vanilla extract, and some more cinnamon and ginger...and I must say, they are quite yummy...and currently tempting me...
Focus, Kristen. Focus.
.:glances at kitchen:. .:glances at computer screen:. .:glances at kitchen:.
Okay, on with the recipe.
Spiced Sugar Cookies:
2 sticks of softened, unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of ground ginger
1 tsp. of vanilla extract (the real stuff is worth it...promise)
3 cups of flour, sifted
3/4 tsp. of baking powder
1/4 tsp. of salt
powdered sugar for rolling out dough
1 and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
3 tbs. of milk
1/2 tsp. of vanilla
1/4 tsp. of cinammon
1/8 tsp. of ground ginger
First, you want to remove two sticks (or one cup) of butter from the fridge and one egg and wait until the ingredients come to room temperature. Once the butter is soft you want to beat it in a stand mixer on low with 1 cup of sugar until the color is a light yellow.
At this point you want to add the egg and vanilla. Once the wet ingredients are incorporated you want to sift the dry ingredients, including the cinnamon and ginger. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Once the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the bowl you want to stop the mixture. You don't want to over-mix your dough or it will make for tough cookies.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and wrap in cling wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate for two hours. This will allow for the dough to rest and cool, making rolling out the dough much, much easier.
After you've refrigerated the dough for two hours, preheat the oven to 375, remove one half of the cookie dough and roll it out on a surface covered lightly in powdered sugar. I like to use a little sifter to help me dust the counter with powdered sugar. You want to rotate the dough occasionally, this will help keep the dough from sticking while you're working with it. Don't have a rolling pin? Do what I did and wrap a wine bottle in some cling wrap. (Don't judge me)
Roll the dough until it's about a 1/4 inch in thickness and use your favorite cookie cutters. Place it on a lightly greased baking sheet (lined with parchment paper is the easiest way to do it..but I used aluminum foil and it worked just fine). Set your timer for 7-9 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs and pop those bad boys in the oven!
Rotate the cookie sheet about halfway through the cooking. Once the cookies are a nice golden brown around the edges it's time to take them out. Let them rest for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to the cooling rack.
Try your best to resist the urge to nibble on them...
Oopsies...well, I did try. I did! They just smelled soooo goooooooooood.
Once they're cooled you can add the glaze. Since I am frosting impaired I like a simple, relatively thin icing that I can just dip the tops of the cookies into. This frosting, or glaze, is super simple to make. Just sift the powdered sugar and add the other ingredients. You might think that 3 tbs. of milk is not enough liquid for all that powdered sugar, but trust me, it is.
All that's left to do is dip the cookies and decorate to your heart's content! Oh, and eat them, of course!
I invite you to try this recipe, or better yet, use it as a base to create your own sugar cookie! Until next time, buon appetito!