Editors pick for easy-to-make sugar cookie dough for rolled out cookies. This dough holds its shape very well, tastes good, and can be made 2 to 3 days ahead. Can be made ahead and is perfect for decorating! Makes about 30 or more cookies (depending on size)
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until lightened in color
Add egg and mix until evenly distributed then blend in vanilla extract and salt
With wooden spoon, combine the flour with the creamed ingredients
The dough will seem soft, but will firm up when refrigerated.
Divide dough in half, flatten each into disk shape, and seal in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours; preferably, overnight.
To bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness, cut into desired shapes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
This dough is mildly flavored (vanilla flavored); for a more robust flavor, consider adding grated citrus rind (lemon or orange), lemon extract, or almond extract to your dough.
Make sure your cookie dough has been chilled before you roll out the dough to cut the cookies. Consider rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper before refrigerating to speed up the rolling/cutting process (I didn't do this but may try in the future)
After chilling the dough, it will need to sit out for 20 minutes or so to facilitate rolling (time will depend on the thickness of the dough/how you shaped it, and the temperature in your kitchen)
To make evenly thick cookies, roll your dough out to 1/4-inch thickness using guide rails or rolling pin guides. This makes things easy!
Use a fairly generous amount of flour on top AND underneath the dough as you roll it out. Otherwise, the dough can and will stick!
If the dough starts feeling warm to the touch, place the dough in the refrigerator.
Consider chilling your cut out cookies for about 10 to 15 minutes before baking to ensure that they don't spread.
It may help to dip your cookie cutter in a bowl of flour.
Use parchment paper or silicone baking sheets to prevent burning the underside of cookies
These cookies don't spread much at all but you should still allow at least 1/2-inch space between the cookies as you place them on your baking sheet.
Monitor the bake - baking too long may result in a very dry cookies. Start checking the cookies at 8 to 10 minutes.
Let your cookies dry completely before storing in a sealed container; otherwise, they will soften and there is a greater chance of spoilage.
Let your cookies cool completely before decorating; otherwise, your icing will run.
I used an icing recipe by Sweet Hope cookies. It's a mix of royal icing and glaze. I feel that straight royal icing isn't very good, taste-wise, and so this icing is definitely a step up.
You can make this icing ahead and it keeps well for 2 to 3 days on the countertop, 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator, and indefinitely if frozen according to Sweet Hope.
The icing serves as a base that will need to be diluted to piping and flooding consistency, which I defined as 15-second icing (it will smooth out within 15 seconds after you run a knife through it). This seems to be a personal preference.
To make the icing into a 15-second icing, simply add water, 1 teaspoon at a time until it smooths within 15 seconds after you run a knife through it.
You can add more sugar to thicken icing back up again if you find its gotten too thin.
Special note: I added 1/2 teaspoon salt per batch of icing (which used a total of 2 pounds confectionary sugar) to cut the sweetness. I also flavored with lemon to balance the sweetness of the icing.