When my brother and I were little, we referred to the sugar cookies my mom would make around the holidays as “Cookie Dough Cookies.” We understood that all cookies came from dough, but none of those other cookie doughs were quite as special. This particular dough had to be made the day before and chilled overnight, allowing us to sneak little bites any time we passed the refrigerator. I probably drank more glasses of milk during that time than any other, simply as an excuse to open the refrigerator. Because these cookies were associated with the holidays, and because we prized this particular dough above all others, the cookies were aptly named Cookie Dough Cookies.
I made those cookies in college a few times, inviting friends over for decorating parties. We always seemd to have a kitchen layout that favored it, but then as an adult, I moved into a small condo that simply didn’t allow for any kind of kitchen or dining table. Instead, I had a breakfast bar that’s too high to do any prep work on, and I had little counter space. I then aquired a kitten who loved to follow me around, and particularly loved running across the counters. Not wanting a trail of floured footprints around the house, I abstained from making my favorite holiday cookies. I didn’t want to give up making sugar cookies completely, so when I came by this recipe that didn’t involve rolling out the dough, I had to try it.
It’s been my go-to recipe ever since. I’ve taken these cookies in to work, where they have always been popular. As an experiment, one holiday season when I was working for a small company (less than 20 employees), I took a batch of these cookies into the office, left the container out on my desk, and sent an e-mail to my coworkers to alert them of the cookies. The cookies disappeared in less than an hour. And yes, I’m quite aware that keeping track of how long your cookies last in the office makes you an uber-dork, but I’m okay with that.
These cookies are crisp and cracked on the outside and chewy on the inside. They also form some hollow pockets on the inside, so don’t let that alarm you. They freeze very well and are equally tasty served plain or frosted.
Easy Sugar Cookies
adapted from The Complete Book of Baking
1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300*F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until softened. Add sugar and cream until fluffy, about four minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.
In a small bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Stir to combine. On low speed, slowly add the flour to the butter mixture. (A stand mixer should be able to mix most of this for you, but a handheld mixer will likely only be able to do part of the flour. Use a wooden spoon to mix any remaining flour into the dough.)
Shape dough into small balls, about an inch in diameter. If desired, roll in colored sugar for decoration. Place balls two inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cookies from sheet and cool on wire racks.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or freeze for up to one month. If desired, frost and decorate.
2 sticks unsalted butter
3 2/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
milk, if needed
Remove butter from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to making the frosting.
On medium-low speed (using paddle attachment if using a stand mixer), beat the slightly cool butter until it’s smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and beat on low until mixed. Add vanilla and beat on low until mixed. If tinting the frosting, add the desired amount of food coloring. If the frosting needs to be thinned, add milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.