Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I saw heart-shaped sugar cookies at my favorite grocery store and wanted them! But the pack of 6 cookies was $8, and I thought I would save myself some money and make them (I had all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge).
I mentioned seeing the store cookies to my husband, and he said, “Your cookies taste better than any store-bought cookies. You should make some and blog it.” So I did!
Sugar cookies are refrigerator cookies, which means you can’t make them in an hour. You have to make the dough, then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, and then take out the dough and bake the cookies. I like to make a lot of dough and refrigerate a couple separate packets. This way I don’t have to bake all the cookies at once (I just might eat them all at once). Dough packets will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
On to the recipe.
First, whisk the flour with cream of tartar and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. If you’re using powdered vanilla (something I love to use when baking), put that in with the flour.
Don’t omit the cream of tartar! It is essential to great-tasting sugar cookies. Leave out the cream of tartar, and your cookies will taste particularly flat.
Then place your eggs, butter, powdered sugar, and lemon extract into a large bowl. If you have a stand mixer, put it in that bowl.
If you’re using liquid vanilla, put that in the bowl, too.
A lot of people use almond extract instead of lemon extract in their sugar cookies. And both work great, but I happen to love how the lemon flavor comes out in my sugar cookies.
I use salted butter, and I think it helps because this recipe doesn’t call for any salt. If you use unsalted butter, you might want to add a little salt here.
Beat your butter mixture (the “wet mixture”) with a mixer for a few minutes, until it’s smooth and fluffy. I forgot to get a picture at this point, but make sure it’s fluffy! Then add the flour a little at a time. Beat slowly at first so flour doesn’t go everywhere.
Keep mixing until everything is smooth and cohesive. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice.
Now your dough is ready to go into the fridge. I make 2 packets out of this much dough. Plop half of it onto some saran wrap.
Now cover it with saran wrap and flatten it, then fold over the sides.
Trust me on this: make your packets flat. A flat packet will roll out so much easier than a round blob or even a tube.
Now refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I usually go overnight, and then take the dough out of the fridge when I preheat the oven (375 degrees), then wait 15 minutes to roll out the dough. It will be easier to roll out then, too.
I like to roll out the dough on parchment paper and also bake the cookies on parchment paper. The parchment paper is probably cleaner than my counter, so it’s safer, right? And when I bake the cookies, I won’t have to wash the cookie sheets. Parchment paper is amazing. I should buy stock in the stuff.
Bake the cookies on cold (not warm or hot) cookie sheets. This means you shouldn’t reuse a cookie sheet unless it has had a chance to cool completely. If you forget and reuse a hot cookie sheet, your cookies will spread out more than you expect.
This recipe expands quite a bit, because it has a lot of baking soda in it. You could reduce the baking soda for less expansive cookies.
Bake your cookies until their centers are puffy and their edges are crispy, about 6 minutes.
Frost the cookies (though my husband will eat a few before I even get to this step). When I was 20, a friend taught me that a properly frosted cookie will have lots of frosting on it. Use your best judgement, but if you’re going to frost them, don’t skimp!
My whole batch of cookies disappeared in the blink of an eye. I guess that means they were a success!