Grandma Betty Grace's Ultimate Sugar Cookie
When my brother Paul married Amy, he married into a treasure trove of recipes for cakes, cookies, and other wonderful desserts. This recipe is one such recipe and it belongs to my sister-in-law's grandmother. It is the best sugar cookie I've ever had in my life. I know, I tend to say that indiscriminately these days but I really really mean it this time. I love everything about this sugar cookie - it's a soft, buttery, cake-like cookie with a hint of orange flavoring, topped with a sweet, light, and fluffy buttercream.
Amy makes them every year, and every year I eat every single one that she brings to my parents' house for the holidays, leaving none for anyone else. I've tried to make them a couple of times but they've flopped (i.e., I failed the cookie, the cookie didn't fail me). I'm just not skilled at rolling cookie dough, cutting shapes with cookie cutters, and decorating them. This year I was determined to hone my skills and make them right. While my cookies weren't perfect, they were a vast improvement from previous years.
Makes 4 to 6 dozen cookies (depending on size)
For the cookie dough:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
For the frosting:
- 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Food coloring
Step 1: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Step 3: Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
Step 4: Working in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Step 5: Add eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla and orange peel.
Step 6: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients slowly, alternately with milk. Mix until just combined. Dough should not be sticky. Chill dough for 1 hour.
Step 7: Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured surface.
Step 8: Cut into desired shapes and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Step 9: Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 7 minutes until light brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.
Step 10: To make the frosting: Using a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the softened butter until it is fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Step 11: Add the powdered sugar and beat well.
Step 12: Add salt and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat well.
Step 13: Add heavy cream and beat well.
Step 14: Add food coloring if you want to tint the frosting and decorate as desired. Let dry for at least 2 hours before packing them in an air tight container for storage.