Sugar Cookies

Total Time:
3 hr 25 min
3 hr
25 min

24 to 36 cookies

  • For the cookies:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (preferably Meyer lemon)
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for the baking sheets
  • Assorted sanding sugar (optional)
  • For the icing:
  • 1/2 pound white or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Assorted food coloring (optional)
  • Nonpareils, coconut flakes, assorted sanding sugar, crushed peppermints, sea salt and/or melted chocolate, for topping
  • Make the cookies: Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Put the butter, granulated sugar and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (or about 6 minutes if using a hand mixer). Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating on medium-high speed between each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches and mix until just incorporated. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and lightly oil. Roll out each piece of dough between 2 sheets of parchment until 1/8 inch thick (return the dough to the refrigerator if it softens too much). Cut into 2-to-4-inch shapes with cookie cutters; arrange 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. (To make a design like the one above, use a potato masher, slotted spoon or spatula as a stencil.) Chill the cutouts 1 hour.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies until lightly golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

  • Meanwhile, make the icing: Put the chocolate, shortening, corn syrup, milk, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring, until smooth. Tint with food coloring.

  • Ice the cookies as desired and decorate with toppings. Transfer to the rack and let set.

  • Thumbprints are traditionally filled with jam, but these are much more fun: Try chocolate kisses, crushed candy canes or a dollop of frosting in the center.

  • Photograph by Steve Giralt

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