Giora Shimoni asserts that if there's anything kids like even more than eating cookies, it's making them. Little ones can help mix the dough, and if you want to try your hand at making cut-out shapes, they can help roll out the dough and get busy with cookie cutters. (Shimoni likes to use this recipe for Hanukkah cookies.) Don't feel like fussing with cookie cutters? Shape the dough into a log, chill, and slice icebox-cookie style. If you want to give the cookies a little sparkle, roll the log in sanding sugar before slicing.
Miri's Recipe Testing Notes and Tips:
Shimoni's original recipe suggested using margarine in place of butter for those who needed pareve cookies. But now that we have a better understanding of the dangers of trans fats, margarine is a much less attractive option. Plus, the flavor of these cookies is simply better with butter. If you need a dairy free cookie, check out these delicious Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies, which are made with oil.
This recipe produces a rather soft dough that tends to spread in the oven, so it can be challenging to use for rolled and cut cookies. If you want to try cookie cutters, try chilling the dough in the freezer, rather than the refrigerator, and keep flour on hand for your rolling surface. Or, use this dough for drop or icebox cookies instead of cut-outs. (If you need a dairy dough that works well with cookie cutters, try this Vanilla Sugar Cookie dough.)
The original recipe called for baking at 425° F for 6 to 8 minutes, but this increases the chance that you'll end up with burnt cookies. I reduced the oven temperature and increased the baking time; use the shorter end of the time range for chewy cookies, or bake a little longer for crunchy cookies.
Updated by Miri Rotkovitz
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. In a large bowl using electric beaters, or a in stand mixer fitted with a ballon whisk, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides if necessary, and add the eggs, orange juice and vanilla extract. Continue beating until light and fluffy (it's fine if the mixture looks slightly curdled, but there should be no large lumps of butter.)
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
3. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and beat just until well blended and smooth.
4. Transfer the dough to a piece of wax or parchment paper. Shape into a disc or log, wrap in the paper, and chill for at least an hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface, and rolling pin (if using).
6. For cut-out cookies, roll out the dough to between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch. (Dust both sides of the dough with flour if it is too sticky to roll out easily). Shape the dough cookie cutters, and carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies.
For sliced cookies, shape the dough into a log, roll in sanding sugar or sprinkles if desired, wrap, and freeze for 15 to 30 minutes, or until firm. Slice into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick rounds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden. Transfer carefully with a spatula to racks to cool.