My life has been peppered with bad sugar cookie experiences. I love a good sugar cookie, but they seem like a holiday kind of cookie, so it took me many years of unsatisfactory holiday baking to come across my favorite sugar cookie. Usually it seems that they either break easily, puff too much to decorate well, run straight out of the shapes you cut and bake into one big blob-tag cookie party, or just don’t taste good.
This recipe is a combined two Christmas effort. Last Christmas I made cookies out of Gourmet magazine and hated the cookie, but loved the frosting. I saved the frosting recipe until this Christmas I combined it with a modified cookie from Country Living. Now I am happy. So happy that I make sugar cookies for all holidays now. For Valentine’s Day we made a batch of these and splatter painted them with neon pink and white frosting (we called them eighties revival cookies), and for Christmas I make half the dough red, and decorate them with a little more care. So… the moral of the story is that armed with a great recipe and a decent arsenal of paste food coloring you can achieve almost anything you set your mind to.
Using a hand mixer, beat 2 c. room temp butter with 1 1/2 c. sugar. When well creamed add 2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks and mix well. Add 1 t. salt, 2 t. vanilla, and 5 c. flour. Mix until flour in well incorporated. Flatten into 2 disks, wrap in parchment and refrigerate for a couple of hours. When ready, roll out on a lightly floured surface, cut into shapes,(especially if you are doing elaborate shapes, put them back in the fridge for about 15 minutes at this point), and bake at 325 degrees (on a parchment lined baking sheet) for about 12 minutes, or until almost browning around the edges. Just slide the whole sheet of parchment onto the counter to cool.
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat together 1 lb. powdered sugar, 4 t. powdered egg whites (you can buy this in any cake decorating department – Wal Mart even), 1/3 c. water, 1 T. lemon juice, and 1 t. vanilla. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until icing holds stiff peaks. Use paste food coloring to color, and decorate however you want to. This icing can be thinned with water.