This is the favorite sugar cookie recipe of Amanda Rettke, creator of the blog I Am Baker and author of Surprise-Inside Cakes. If you like, you can use food coloring to color the icing, or you can flavor it with vanilla or other extracts, but remember that these liquids will make the icing runnier, so you’ll need to adjust the amount of milk you use accordingly.
For the cookies:
- 24 Tbs. (3 sticks) (12 oz./375 g) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (14 oz./440 g) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. almond extract
- 4 cups (20 oz./625 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
For the icing:
- 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 drop fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
- 1 Tbs. milk, or as needed
- Sanding sugar for decorating (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and sugar together until well combined and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolks and continue beating until thoroughly combined, then beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, about 1 cup at a time, and mix, using either a wooden spoon or the stand mixer on low speed, until just combined. Do not overmix.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten the balls into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out a dough disk about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes from the dough. Arrange the shapes on baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Gather up and reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough disks.
Bake the cookies until golden on the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.
To make the icing, in a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and corn syrup. The mixture should be very thick. Whisk in the milk a few drops at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If you want to use the icing for outlining, you want it to remain quite thick. If, however, you want to cover the cookies with icing, it should be more liquid.
Decorate the cooled cookies as desired with the icing, using a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip or a small plastic bag with the corner snipped off. Decorate with sanding sugar if desired. Store the cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on cutter size.
Recipe by Amanda Rettke, creator of the blog I Am Baker and author of Surprise-Inside Cakes