If you're in the mood for something sweet, there are a lot of easy sugar cookie recipes to choose from. But sugar cookies come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. They can be as simple as drop cookies, a spoonful of dough dropped onto a cookie sheet, or as elaborate as carefully cut-out cookies decorated with pretty, colorful icing.
So which one of those easy sugar cookie recipes should you pick? Which one will give you the best results for the type of sugar cookie you're trying to make?
The truth is, most easy sugar cookie recipes use the same basic list of ingredients, with maybe an added spice here or there. What it really comes down to are the quantities of each ingredients, and how you treat the dough.
Each ingredient in a sugar cookie has a specific role, and tweaking its quantity will give you a slightly different cookie. So what goes in a sugar cookie?
- Flour. Flour gives the cookie its structure. When you mix flour in liquids, it forms tough strands of gluten. The more you mix it, and the more flour you add, the tougher a cookie you get.
- Butter. Butter doesn't just add flavor. It also helps the cookie stay more tender by preventing too much gluten from forming. It also lets the cookie spread out more.
- Sugar. Sugar helps the cookies be more fluffy by trapping air inside the butter when you cream it. Also, if you don't cream it enough, the undissolved sugar will make the cookie spread out more.
- Eggs. The yolks help make a more tender cookie, and the whites help give it structure. They also add some moisture.
- Baking powder. Baking powder helps the cookie rise.
- Baking soda. Baking soda makes the cookies brown faster, and makes the cookie more tender.
- Vanilla. Vanilla is just there for flavor, but it really does make all the difference.
- Salt. Like vanilla, the salt is just there for flavor, although it can toughen the cookie, too.
But it's not just the ingredients that matter in easy sugar cookie recipes. How you handle the dough will affect what kind of cookie you get.
- The longer you cream the butter and sugar, the fluffier a cookie you'll get. It also won't spread as much, perfect to help cut out cookies keep their shape.
- The longer you mix the flour with the wet ingredients, the tougher a cookie you'll get. If you're looking for something fluffy, avoid over-mixing.
- If you want to roll out the dough, you'll need to refrigerate it until it's firm enough to work with.
- You can also refrigerate the raw cookies once they're shaped. It helps them keep their shape in the oven.
When you're baking, it's always a good idea to start with a recipe. But once you have a decent recipe, you can tweak it to suit your tastes and purposes, and make your own easy sugar cookie recipes.