Shapely Rolled Sugar Cookies
This recipe is essentially the same as the “Master Recipe for Butter Cookies” from Chris Kimball’s The Dessert Bible (Little Brown, 2000). While he recommends cake flour, I used the same amount of all-purpose flour and a combo of vanilla, almond extract and nutmeg. I also refrigerate the cookies after cutting them out, as well as chilling the dough before rolling.
Makes about 60 two to three-inch cookies
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large egg yolks
Whisk flour and salt together in a small bowl to aerate; set aside.
Place butter in bowl of mixer and beat with flat paddle on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice; beat in vanilla, almond extract and nutmeg. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, again scraping down the bowl once or twice.
Turn machine off, add about one-third of the flour, then turn machine onto low-speed. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing just until blended, scraping down bowl once or twice. Form into two very flat discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm enough to roll. Dough may be refrigerated overnight. (You may freeze dough up to 1 month; defrost in refrigerator overnight before proceeding).
Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
Remove one disc from refrigerator and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness on floured surface; you may need to flour your rolling pin too. Cut out cookies with shapes of choice. Transfer cookies to prepared pans placing 2-inches apart. Decorate with colored sugars or regular sugar, if desired. Refrigerate cookies on pans until very firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position oven racks in lower and upper third of oven.
Bake for about 9 minutes or until edges and bottoms have just begun to turn very light golden brown. Cool pans on rack for a few minutes, then slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely. Decorate with frostings or paint with dissolved edible coloring, if desired. (Cookies may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week).