I've been wanting to make these cookies for weeks. If forced to pick a favorite cookie, mine just might be a butter cookie with royal icing. Of course these are labor intensive, and I was seriously lacking in time to attempt such a project.
But there was an unexpected lull in my end of the semester crunch, and I wanted to give these cookies as a thank-you gift to my phd application recommendation writers.
I've attempted baking these kind of cookies twice before. The first time, with a recipe from Baked they were sort of a mess. Tasted fine, but sort of messy. The second time with a recipe from Joe Pastry - which turned out really well. But I needed a lot of cookies, and doubling ounces from Joe's blog looked like a bad idea.
And then TheKitchn went on about how these are the best butter cookies, ever. The recipe uses an obscene amount of butter, so of course I knew they would be amazing. Coincidentally it also made an obscene amount of cookies. On Friday I needed more cookies, and I was low on flour, so I quartered the recipe and it worked splendidly. Also I found this dough the easiest to roll out of the three recipes I've tried. Highly recommend. Finished cookie below: precision frost-er I am not.
Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
between 8 and 12 dozen, depending on size
Originally from TheKitchn
3 cups butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
3 cups sugar
6 ounces cream cheese (3/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract*
2 teaspoons lemon zest*
9 cups flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until golden. Add the cream cheese and again beat until well incorporated. Add the flavorings and lemon zest.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add, bit by bit, to the butter/sugar mixture.You will have chosen a large bowl for this particular recipe, I hope - mine was overflowing by this point and I ended up doing the final mix in a large plastic bag.
Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour - preferably overnight.
Heat the oven to 350° F. Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies.
Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness. The small, thinner ones started browning after about 8 minutes, and I didn't want these brown at all. The larger ones had a slight golden bottom after 11 minutes, which was perfect for my purposes.
Let cool before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.
*I left out the Almond Extract and the Lemon Zest. Still tasty.
**As I said above, I needed more dough and I was short on butter, flour and cream cheese. I quartered the recipe (using 1 egg) and it worked splendidly, making just about two dozen cookies.