My husband and children prefer cookies to scones. Fortunately, I love to bake cookies. I enjoy the whole process, from making the dough to eating the final product. I like unfussy cookies that are relatively easy to throw together and make me feel like I really have my act together.
These sugar cookies do just that. The dough is uncomplicated, and using cookie stamps to decorate them is easy but makes them look fancy. It looks like I spent hours slaving away in the kitchen. Just what I like in a recipe.
Cookie stamps are easy to use but there are a few things you can do to ensure success. (My cookie stamps are cast aluminum. I have not yet tried the silicone stamps, so I can't promise that these tips will work well for those kinds of stamps, but the basic premise is the same.)
Tips for success with your cookie stamps:
- Reduce the leavening agent (baking soda or baking powder) in your cookie dough, or leave it out all together.
- Make sure your dough has enough flour to prevent the cookies from spreading too much in the oven. Dough should not be sticky and you should be able to handle it without flouring your hands, but it shouldn't be so dry that it's crumbly. It should have a consistency similar to play dough.
- Portion the dough into balls about 2 Tbsp in size and use your hands to roll into smooth balls before stamping. (The rolling is optional but will give you cleaner edges)
- Lightly flour your stamp before pressing the cookie.
- Use an ungreased cookie sheet so that the dough will adhere to the pan when you lift the stamp up.
- Bake until set but not browning, though a little brown on the edges is fine. Allow to cool on the pan for just a few minutes, then gently remove to a cooling rack. If you leave them to cool completely, they will stick to the pan.
- If you are a serious perfectionist, get a circle cutter the same size as your stamps and use it to neaten up your edges after you stamp the cookies. (I don't bother with this, but I might if I were making them for something like a baby shower or an uptight friend.) Alternatively, you can roll the dough out, stamp it, and then use a circle cutter to cut out the cookies.
The recipe I use originally comes from Nordic Ware. I'm not crazy about almond flavoring, so I use vanilla in mine.
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 c. flour
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Using the paddle attachment and a stand mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until fluffy. Add the flour and salt, and beat on low speed until well-combined but not longer. Check your dough. If it is sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it isn't sticky anymore. If it's dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon or two of milk until the dough comes together. No need to chill the dough, but if you aren't going to use it right away, you can store it wrapped tightly in the fridge for several days. Let it come to room temperature before using.
Portion the dough into balls about 2 Tbsp. I use a small ice cream scoop for this. You can make the cookies smaller, but they will be flatter when you press them with the stamp. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, a couple of inches apart. Dip your stamp into flour and tap off the excess. Press the stamp straight down in the center of the ball of dough until you just start to see the dough on the sides (that way you know the whole design has been transferred to the dough) and gently lift up, rocking the stamp just slightly as you lift away. If you stamp one and don't like it, no problem, scrape it off the sheet, re-roll the ball, and re-stamp.
Bake cookies 12-14 min, until just starting to turn slightly golden on the edges. Cookies will be very soft when they first come out of the oven. Let them cool slightly on the pan and then gently remove them to a cooling rack. Don't let them fully cool on the pan or they will stick.
In these photos, I tried a new a recipe for peanut butter cookies. But they tasted like unsweetened peanut-buttery sawdust. So I won't recommend that recipe. But Nordic Ware has a recipe for peanut butter cookies right on the box that the stamps came in and I plan to try that next. I will let you know how it goes.
Let me know how it goes if you try them, or if you have any further tips or questions.