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How to Make Sugar Cookies

Learn how to make sugar cookies from pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse in this Howcast video.


Hi, I'm Katie Rosenhaus and today we're making holiday sugar cookie dough. So, I'm starting with a few basic ingredients in my stand mixer. I have a stick of softened butter, so that basically means a stick of butter from the refrigerator and leave it on your counter for at least half an hour until you can kind of just push it and it should just soften underneath your fingers.

But so, I'm just going to go ahead and throw the whole stick in. And it's important whenever you're making cookies to cream your butter and sugar first. So, I'm going to start with a cup of sugar along with my butter and just turn the mixer on low speed so this way I won't get a big cloud of sugar everywhere. And just beat that until the sugar and the butter combine and become nice and smooth. You don't need to go until it's fluffy. You don't want that to turn grainy and light. You just want to combine the sugar and the butter. I'm just going to let that go for a minute and then I'm going to add in one whole egg. So, if you want to be safe you could crack your egg into a separate bowl, this way when you add it in no shells will end up in your cookies. So, let's go ahead and do that. Right in the bowl. And now that my butter and my sugar are combined I'm just going to pour my egg right in. Super easy. So that's step 1.

So, you can see I have a nice smooth mixture. My butter and sugar are ready to go and all that's left to add is: a little vanilla; some salt, to kind of round out that sweet flavor of the cookie dough; and my flour, which is probably the most important part. So I'm going to go ahead and add in my two cups of flour and just open up my mixer. And that goes right in, you don't have to add it slowly just pour the whole thing right in. A little bit of salt, and salt in deserts is unbelievably important. It makes the difference between a desert that's just kind of okay, and one that's really over the top and delicious. And this is actually what's called vanilla bean paste. So, instead of using extract I get all these bits of beautiful vanilla bean going into my cookies. And last but not least, a little bit of baking powder. So, just a half a teaspoon. Just to give the cookies a little bit of lift. And that's it. Again, low speed. We're making Christmas cookies but you don't want to cover your kitchen in snow so just low speed until it starts coming together and then feel free to raise that speed up and just beat your cookies until it becomes a nice ball of dough. One more second. Beautiful. So, faster than you think. You don't have to beat it forever. You don't want to work it too much because what happens is all of the flour starts to build up something called gluten.

And gluten is a protein. So, the more you build up that gluten in your dough, the more rubbery and kind of firm your cookies become and we don't want that. We want nice tender cookies. So, you can see my dough is ready to go. I'm going to pour it right out on the surface. Get every bit. And now I'm just going to kind of bring it together with my hands so it's nice and smooth. Now, if you're at home, I would take this dough and I would wrap it in plastic wrap and just chill it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour to an hour, until it's nice and cold and firm and then it will be even easier to roll out. But, I'm just going to go ahead and roll it now.

So, I have a little bit of flour to flour my surface. And you can see when I'm doing this I'm not putting a big layer of flour down I'm just sprinkling a light layer. So, this way I'm not adding too much flour to my dough as I work. And I'm just going to go in with my rolling pin and move the dough around. So, just gently I'm just rolling this out. And again, if you have time to chill your dough it's going to be even easier to work with. But that's it. Nice and even. I can feel everything is nice and even and nice and thin. And now I have my cookie cutter. So, a Christmas tree, snowflake, any cookie cutter you have at home is great. And try to cut the cookies as close together as possible, so this way you have the least amount of dough to re-roll after. And when you're done with all of those, they go right on to a cookie sheet. Just use a nice spatula to pick them up because if you go and try to pick them up with your hands you're going to end up warping the shape of the dough. So just use a spatula to pick them up and get any extra little bits off.

I'm spacing them about an inch or so apart so they have room to kind of spread a little bit in the oven. And that's it. I'm going to bake these at about 375 for 10 to 12 minutes until they're just slightly golden around the edges. And those are our Christmas sugar cookies.

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