Cookie Calendar: King Arthur's Special Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

cookiecalendar.jpgRecipes like these are what make me wish I left more than spilled ingredients on my cookbooks.

I'm constantly on the lookout for a reliable recipe for roll-out cookies that hold up to cutting with intricate cutters and to decorating. The problem is, every year I forget what sugar cookie recipes worked (or didn't) the year before.

Because. I. never. write. it. down!

I know I attempted this sugar cookie recipe a couple years ago. There was flour cemented to the page as evidence! But I can't remember if they spread and puffed, ruining the pretty cookie shapes.

It's a problem, because I need to choose a recipe for this year's attempt at fir trees and snowmen. I'm considering this recipe, but I'm leaning toward either another one from the same book called "Decorator's Dream Cookies" or the "Holiday Cookies" from my new America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I have also eyed the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Christmas cut-out cookies, which have an interesting painting technique.

Ack! I can't decide.

I'm actually planning to make two sugar cookies this year. One I'll use for fancy shapes and decoration, and the others I'll probably scoop straight from the bowl onto the pan for rounds I can slather in that accursed margarine frosting that apparently it wouldn't be Christmas without.

I still refuse to go the route of pre-made dough even for those, though. Principles, people!

One thing, though -- even if I can't remember whether these cookies puffed and spread, I do know that at least they are tasty!

King Arthur's Special Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
Source: The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
Yield: 42 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 large egg
¼ cup (2 ounces) heavy cream or sour cream
3 tablespoons (¾ ounce) cornstarch
3 cups (12¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, vanilla, and almond extract until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add half the cream, all of the cornstarch, and half the flour; beat well. Add the remaining cream and flour, mixing just until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.

2. Divide the dough in half, flatten into rounds, and wrap well. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more, to facilitate rolling.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

4. Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and place a piece of plastic wrap over it while you roll it out to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. Roll the dough to ¹⁄₈ to ¼ inch thick. Cut it into shapes of your choice and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.

5. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they're set but not browned. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Use a metal spatula to pick up one cookie; if it seems fragile or breaks, let the cookies continue to cool until you can handle them easily.

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