Classic sugar cookies are always a crowd pleaser, whether they're unadorned or fancifully decorated. This easy-to-handle dough can be rolled out for cut-out cookies, or shaped into logs and sliced icebox cookie style. Decorate with sanding sugar or your favorite cookie frosting, or keep it simple and serve them plain -- either way, you can't go wrong!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Sanding sugar (or turbinado sugar, or royal icing for garnish) (optional)
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, use electric beaters or a stand mixer to cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg, orange juice, and vanilla, beating on medium speed until evenly mixed.
3. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions, beating between additions until the flour is well incorporated and the dough begins to pull into a ball.
If the dough is very sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing between each addition.
4. For cut out cookies, cover the dough and chill for at least an hour, or until is firm enough to roll out.
For sliceable icebox cookies, divide the dough in thirds, and shape into a 1- to 2-inch thick log, depending on the size of cookies you prefer. Wrap the dough in parchment or wax paper, place in a freezer bag, and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease 2 large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper or Silpat liners.
For cut out cookies: With clean, lightly floured hands, shape a portion of dough into a disc. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick. (To prevent sticking, you can also place the dough between two sheets of wax paper before rolling it out.) Cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters. Carefully transfer the shaped dough to the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies. Decorate the tops with sanding sugar if desired, or leave plain if you plan to ice them.
For icebox cookies: Unwrap a log of dough. Roll in sanding or tubinado sugar if desired, pressing gently so the sugar adheres to the dough. Or, leave the dough plain if you plan to frost the cookies. With a sharp knife, cut the logs into thin slices (about 1/4" thick) and place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.
6. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are firm and the undersides are golden.
Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. When the cookies are completely cool, decorate with royal icing or frosting if desired.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze, well wrapped, for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough may be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Enjoy!