Sunday, November 25, 2012

The BEST Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever


I've baked a lot of sugar cookies over the years, always searching for the best, most consistent recipe. Some recipes called for the cookies to be chilled in the freezer before baking, adding tons of time to the process. Some recipes used powered sugar instead of granulated. And others used more flour than necessary.

But my recipe quest ended when I stumbled upon the recipe posted by Pam at CookieCrazie. Her cookies always look amazing and she used glaze icing instead of royal, something I'll have to try one of these days. 

I tweaked Pam's recipe just a tad, but it's the most consistent, best tasting sugar cookie recipe ever. And now, you can enjoy these cookies too. Here's what you need:
Yes, you saw that right. You need Greek yogurt for these cookies. It's the secret ingredient and what I think makes these cookies taste so good. Plus, you can convince yourself that the cookies are healthy! Greek yogurt is good for you, right?

The first step to making these cookies to get the prep work finished first. I like to measure the flour, salt, and baking powder and keep aside in a bowl until ready to use. It makes things go much easier. 

By the way, did you know the right way to measure flour is to use a scoop or a spoon and add it to the measuring cup before leveling? Now you do.
Don't you love the purple measuring cup? I got a set at one of my favorite stores, Sur La Table

Make sure your butter is at room temperature (leave it out on the counter for about an hour). Add it to your mixer, along with the sugar. It should look like this:
Mix your egg together with the vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl. Then add it to the butter mixture.
Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated. Measure out the Greek yogurt and add to the butter mixture.
Mix well. Your dough should now look a little lumpy, like this:
Now add the flour mixture you set aside. I like to add half of the mixture and mix for a minute, and then add the rest. If you have a splash guard for your mixer, now would be a good time to use it, as it prevents flour from flying out.
You'll know when the dough is ready when none of it sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Form the dough into two balls and cover with plastic wrap. Get your rolling pin and cookie cutters ready. One thing I love about this dough is that it doesn't need to chill before cutting and baking. Now is also a good time to preheat the oven to 325.

I like my sugar cookies thick. They keep their shape better and stay softer. I usually roll the dough to about 1/2 inch. You can buy rolling pin guides that help make the dough the same thickness. I have a set I picked up at a discount store awhile ago, and they are awesome. 
These cookies don't spread that much, so you don't need tons of space around them. That being said, don't put them too close together either. An inch apart should be good.
Another thing I love about this recipe is that you can bake two cookie sheets at the same time! This save so much time when baking. You will need to switch the cookie sheets halfway through baking though.
Make sure you keep an eye on the cookies, as you don't want them to get too brown. I found that small cookies baked for 16 minutes, while larger ones took almost 18 minutes.
Ideally, you don't want to see any brown on the cookie. You'll be able to tell when they're fully cooked when the tops and sides don't look shiny.
This is how you'd like the bottoms to look. It's okay if they're a little darker, but don't go any darker than this:
A cross between the above two photos is perfect. Pay attention to the edges around the bottom of the cookies.

Let the cookies cool on a cookie sheet, before storing in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container. The cookies will keep for about a week or so, but it's best if you decorate them within two to three days. Once decorated, the cookies have a longer shelf life and can last for a couple of weeks if stored properly.

Here is the recipe, adapted from CookieCrazie:
The BEST Sugar Cookies Ever
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (don't use fat free)
4 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, vanilla, and Greek yogurt. Blend in dry ingredients.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
Roll dough to desired thickness (I prefer 1/2 inch). Cut into shapes. Place cookies on un-greased cookie sheet, lined with either parchment paper or a Silpat. 
This recipe yields approximately 20-25 medium cookies.
Bake approximately 16-20 minutes, depending on cookie size.

NOTE: You can bake two cookie sheets at a time, but switch the cookie sheet positions (move bottom one to top and vice versa) after 10 minutes. Continue baking for the remaining time.

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