Here’s my favorite recipe for sugar cookies. Think of them as homemade slice-and-bakes. Make the dough, roll it into a long then refrigerate it until you need them. Cut the cookies into 1/4-inch thick slices, then bake. Even plain they are wonderful. But you can get a little fancier by sprinkling with colored sugars before baking, using my technique for “sugaring” after baking, or drizzling them with melted chocolate.
Bonus Baking Tip: Be sure your oven is preheated before you start baking. Most recipes (though not the one that follows) start by saying to preheat the oven. It’s a good idea; you want the oven fully heated before the cookies go in so they bake up perfectly. For the following recipe, turn the oven on before you even get the chilled dough out of the fridge and start slicing.
BUTTERY SUGAR COOKIES
Makes about 2 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Meringue powder (optional)
Colored coarse sugar (optional)
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Beat on low until just combined.
Form dough into a 12-inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. (Dough can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator or frozen up to 1 month. Thaw dough in the refrigerator before proceeding with recipe.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange on baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch in between. Bake until edges are golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool cookies on pan 5 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely.
If desired, mix a little meringue powder with a little water. Brush over cookies. Sprinkle liberally with coarse colored sugar. Tap off excess. (Baked cookies will last about 3 days, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)