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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. 


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