For those of you with kids (or you’re just a big kid at heart) sometimes there really isn’t anything better than a frosted sugar cookie. I’ve been eating and making these sugar cookies for as long as I can remember. A rainy Saturday leading up to Halloween weekend was spent watching Hocus Pocus and frosting these cookies with my sisters. And even though my daughter is too young to enjoy cookies yet, I just had to keep that tradition going this Halloween season.
I will be the first to admit that when I’m craving a cookie, a sugary one with icing on it is not my go-to. These sugar cookies, however, are seriously addictive. They are crisp on the bottom, fluffy on the inside, and not too sweet as to overshadow the icing on top. And they are super easy to make!
Yields 20 cookies
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. cream of tartar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Set bowl aside. In large mixing bowl at medium speed, beat the cold butter with the sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until blended. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture. (Do not over-mix.) Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out portions of the dough to ¼-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and place on a cookie sheet that is lined either with a silpat or parchment paper. (Check out my chocolate chip cookie recipe for tips on using a silpat vs parchment paper.) Bake cookies for 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet halfway through the baking time. Cool cookies before frosting.
Yields 1 cups
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp. milk
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- food coloring (preferably gel-based, so your icing doesn’t become too runny)
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Add food coloring until the color you want is reached. For easy frosting, place the icing into sturdy ziploc bags and cut the very tip. Squeezable frosting without the mess! You can also use a spatula or knife if you prefer.
Icing note: There are several different ways to make sugar cookie icing. Royal icing, which is used by professionals, is a beautiful, bakery-quality frosting, but is not as accessible to the home chef. Those recipes require either meringue powder (hard to find AND semi-expensive) or raw egg whites (which makes them unsuitable for children to eat…which is ridiculous when you’re making a jack-o-lantern and ghost-shaped cookies). Why waste time on specialty ingredients when you can spend the time actually decorating the cookies? (Or better yet, eating them!)