sugar cookie gems

There are a few recipes that I never have to consult- I have made them so many times that I can do the entire process from memory. These cookies are included in that very short roster.

When I was in college, and then as a starving intern/grad student, I had a little bakery business making custom cookies and cakes for the sororities and fraternities on campus. These cookies were my bestselling item- I can do any combination of colors, and write any short phrases. I even got pretty good at doing the sorority symbols.  Later on, when I was selling through Etsy, these again became a highly sought after item- people loved having me write messages to their loved ones on these little bites of joy. I even made hundreds of them as wedding favors for my sister Jessica's wedding.

This time of year, they make excellent holiday cookies. Hostess gifts, cookies to ship to your friends and family you can't be with, or just a great platter to have out on Christmas Eve. I love the idea of writing "Blitzen" and "Mrs. Claus" and all the corresponding characters on them for a beautiful platter for Santa.

The cookies themselves are kind of a cross between a sable and a shortbread- they are rich and buttery, but crisp, with a strong flavor of vanilla. They last forever in a sealed container and ship beautifully. I'm not including the instructions for the lettering in this post, but that will come directly on it's heels, I promise. 

Such an easy cookie to make, and even if you don't do the royal icing, they are festive at all times of year, depending which type of sugar you use. Shimmery and sweet. Using coarse sugar for the rolling sugar gives them a more sparkly, crunchy finished product, while using fine colored sugar gives a more refined look and a more moist cookie. I always do a little of both- just be careful not to mix coarse with fine, as it doesn't have a great result.

Here's how it's done:

Preheat your oven to 375 and line three cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and the sugars.

Add the egg, vanilla, baking powder, and salt, and mix well.

Now beat in the flour on low speed. At first it will be very loose and dry- don't be afraid, just keep mixing until it comes together.

That's it! Easiest cookie dough ever. Now you want to roll the dough into small, 1" balls....

...roll the ball in the sugar of choice...

...and gently place on the cookie sheet in even rows.

I like to use a flat-bottomed drinking glass to flatten the cookies, as this way I can see through the glass to just how wide the cookie has been pressed. Go through your whole cookie sheet and gently press each one flat.

If you are using multiple colors of sugar, always start with the lightest sugar and work your way to the darkest, as some of the sugar will cling to your hands and get into the dough. Blue-streaked yellow probably isn't the color you are going for.

As you finish each cookie sheet, pop them in your 375 oven one at a time for 8-10 minutes (10 at the very longest). The cookies will barely be starting to brown. This is just fine.

If you are going to decorate them, let them cool completely first.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Here's the recipe!