Okay, I went a sugar cookie JOURNEY!! I tried just under two DOZEN sugar cookie recipes and they were about as different as you could get: baking powder, baking soda, both, cornstarch, sour cream, cake flour, bread flour, almond extract, cream of tartar . . . you get the point! I tried all of the major food bloggers and their proclaimed best sugar cookie recipe and I was shocked at how many recipes fell flat! I also was really surprised at just how different the cookie doughs were. Some were really dry and crumbly, some were super wet and sticky and a couple were the perfect consistency AND tasted great. Win!
So let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Im a sugar cookie fanatic! If I'm going to a bakery or cookie shop, I don't even have to think about it, I'm getting the sugar cookie. BUT there are absolutely different kinds of sugar cookies. There are the classic holiday cut-out sugar cookies, the chewy, almost underdone sugar cookies that are either rolled in sugar or sprinkles (looove that kind), and then the love-child of the two-- the Utah favorite Pink Swig/Dutchmans (can't get involved in that debate ha) sugar cookie. Since we're just talking about the cut-out sugar cookies, here is my criteria:
I wanted a cookie dough that wasn't too sticky/messy and didn't need to be refrigerated for hours and hours before use, because lets be real, I'm impatient ; ) especially when it means waiting for cookies to enter my mouth! However, I did come to appreciate in my testing that the sugar cookies that needed a teensy bit of firming up in the fridge were usually the ones that tasted better. It makes sense though! They were softer doughs because they had a higher butter-to-flour ratio. Making them taste better, but needing just a quick trip in the fridge as you prep your cookie sheets.
It also needed to be dense and thick but not dry or floury-tasting. It can't be too melt in your mouth, too fluffy, or too crumbly. Too much to ask? I think not.
It should hold its shape, but not to the extent that it doesn't taste good anymore. TASTE OVER EVERYTHING!
Okay so here at my TWO top recipes! I had to do two, because for me, the sour cream sugar cookie had a depth to the dough that none of the other recipes had! It made it savory and delicious and not just your basic sugar+ butter taste. There was something extra! *This recipe has a more textured look to the cookies after you bake them because of the sour cream. The cookie itself is slightly more cake-like, but still dense enough where you go, yep that's a great sugar cookie.*
SOUR CREAM SUGAR COOKIES
1 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C sour cream
3 C flour
Blend together the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes or until its light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and the vanilla. Combine.
Add the sour cream. Combine again.
Sift together all the dry ingredients and add to the wet.
PRO TIP: combine JUST until the white flour has almost all disappeared. Do not over mix! Such an important step for the best sugar cookies. You can always stop early and just stir in the rest by hand to incorporate.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.Then roll out to 1/2 inch in thickness. THAT IS KEY to getting that thick, dense sugar cookie we all love.
Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes, or until the edges and bottom start to barely get browned. (I don't like mine crispy at all, so I take them out when they are still pale in color and then let them cool on the cookie sheet.)
Okay and my second recipe was actually one I had tried about a month ago, because I left a party and went wow! that sugar cookie was amazing. I text my friend for the recipe--Lookin at you Jeanette ; ) -- and tried it and thought it was amazing and had no complaints. Fast forward to me on my 13th sugar cookie recipe and I went "Im not finding what I want!" Then as if from the heavens above, I remembered her sugar cookie recipe, made it again, and it was perfection. *This recipe is more of your classic, best ever sugar cookie you would imagine. Holds shape good, taste it amazing, dense, but flavorful.*
JEANETTES SUGAR COOKIES
1 1/2 C unsalted, butter
2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
5 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 3-5 minutes.
Add eggs and vanilla and combine.
In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Then add to the wet ingredients. Mix until the flour is just barely combined.
Refrigerate for 30-60 min.
ROLL THEM OUT THICK!! Mine were right around 1/2 inch thick. That's what helps make it dense and thick and sooo divine!
Bake at 400 for 8 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.
*note the UNSALTED butter-- ill be honest sometimes I just use salted because I almost aways have that in my freezer. I know it's not technically correct, but when a cookie calls, ya know? Anyway! Because there are 2 tsp of salt, in this recipe its important to use unsalted butter.*
Okay now for the FROSTINGS. You are completely covered in the frosting department with these three. We have a buttercream, a cream cheese with a surprising ingredient, and then a royal icing. You can't go wrong.
1/2 C butter, softened
3 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 TBS heavy whipping cream
-cream butter by itself for a minute or two first
-alternate adding the powdered sugar and the heavy whipping cream until you have the desired consistency.
8 oz cream cheese
2 TBS butter
2 tsp vanila
4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
-Cream butter and cream cheese first for about a minute or two
-add vanilla, combine
-add 2 C powdered sugar, then the cream of tartar, and then the last 2 cups of powdered sugar (you do it in this order so that the cream of tartar get distributed evenly in the frosting and doesn't get clumpy at all)
*note I actually LOVE cream of tartar in my sugar cookies. It takes it from being a basic butter/sugar taste to a zingyness of something special. For me it's what makes a sugar cookie. Originally I was creating a recipe that had it in the dough, but then my friend Jeanette told me about her cream cheese frosting recipe that had cream of tartar in it! So unique and different and IT WORKS!!! When my neighborhood voted on these sugar cookies, the majority of them said this cream cheese frosting was their favorite because their was just thing tangy- something else they couldn't put their finger on-- which was the cream of tartar. That flavor and zing just screams classic sugar cookie.
2 C powered sugar
2 TBS corn syrup-- this is what gives it the beautiful glossy sheen!
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 TBS heavy whipping cream
-mix in order given