Ah, sugar cookies. They’re easy and fun to make, and so versatile too – especially with this fail-proof recipe.
They’re the playdough of foods, so why not make a batch with your kids? They’ll love the time with you (and the dough they get to eat while you’re not looking). And if you’re looking for some great gift ideas for teachers, friends or family, roll up right this way… here are five ways to take the humble sugar cookie and dress it up as a really cute, budget-friendly, sanity-friendy, homemade gift.
1. Spell it out
Using alphabet playdough cutters (like these ones) you could spell out your thanks or a sweet message.
2. Get a little “extra”
Fancy-up your cookies by adding something special. Here are some of my favourite additions that work really well: Sprinkle in a cup of chocolate chips, or the same amount of a chocolate hazelnut bar (broken into chunks). For a refreshing twist, add lemon or orange zest to your dough. Or add a glazed half cherry, a pecan nut or a chocolate malt ball to each biscuit – if you do this, roll small balls of cookie dough and press down each with a fork before pressing your festive addition into the centre. Alternatively, take your baked and cooled cookie and dip one half in melted chocolate. Lay them on a wire rack to set.
3. Dress ’em up
Icing your biscuits is a bit like colouring them in, it adds colour and some extra sweetness too. This is my go-to recipe for icing biscuits. It sets well and doesn’t budge after. Add a little extra icing sugar though to get the consistency just right for piping onto biscuits.
4. Add a touch of glass
Is there anything better than lovely little glass containers? Consol has so many cute and classy glass jars to choose from. They’re really cheap and cheerful too. Pop your cookies in a jar, add a ribbon around its neck, and you’re done.
Congratulations! You spent some fun time with the kids, you baked, you unleashed a little creativity, and you didn’t break the bank!
THE ULTIMATE SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE:
• 1 cup salted butter (if you use unsalted, just add a half teaspoon of salt to the recipe)
• 1 cup castor sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 large egg
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 180° C. And put the oven rack in the middle of your oven.
Using an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. This should take at least 3 minutes and the mixture should grow paler in colour.
Now add the vanilla extract and egg and mix in with your beater. If you’re adding a zest, add this in now too.
In a separate bowl combine baking powder and flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer, turn out the dough onto a countertop surface. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand. Toward the end of this process, add in the chocolate chips or chunks if you’re doing that.
You don’t need to chill this dough before working with it. In fact, it’s best if you don’t.
If you’re making cookies that don’t need to be rolled and cut into any particular shape, roll a heaped teaspoon’s worth of dough into balls. Place them on your greased baking tray or on a tray lined with baking paper and press down each with the back of a fork. Now’s the time to add your nut/cherry or choc ball if you’re opting for fancy biscuits.
If you’re needing to press out shapes from the dough, divide it into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface (about 5mm in width) and cut.
Bake at 180 for 6-8 minutes and cool on the baking tray until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.