Ok, so I'm going to be real honest. I'm 34 years old and have NEVER (until this past Christmas) been able to bake perfectly shaped sugar cookies no matter how much I spent on fancy cookie cutters. Christmas trees always came out like wonky triangles, valentine hearts like big blobs, and Easter Bunnies - well, I gave up on those years ago.
I've always been a fairly decent cook, with the exception of baking. I naively never understood why my cookies wouldn't hold their shape - yes, truthfully, it didn't really occur to me that the key to perfectly shaped cookies was in the dough. And more specifically, my new, not-so-secret ingredient for sugar cookie dough - CORN STARCH, and parchment paper! (Ok, for those of you that have known this for years, don't laugh. I admittedly recognize that common sense in baking is not a skill of mine!)
Anyhoo, this winter I've successfully made Christmas cookies in recognizable shapes and now, hearts that look like HEARTS! I'm convinced that the corn starch is the key weapon.
Here it is:
- 4 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Parchment paper (It's magical!)
- *Makes approximately 24-30 cookies depending on cookie size
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut sticks of butter into cubes. Mix butter and sugar until well combined using a stand mixer or hand mixer. (If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment, not the whisk attachment! Mixture will be thick and somewhat clumpy.)
- Add eggs
- Slowly add flour, cornstarch, and salt. (I add my flour 1 cup at a time allowing the mixture to slowly and evenly blend.)
- Dough will become doughy(!) - and start to form into a ball and pull away from mixing bowl.
- Roll dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper, about 1/3-1/4 inch thickness.
- Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes
- Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and add cookies to sheet
- Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes
- Allow cookies to cool completely on cooling rack before decorating
*Pro-tip: If you're like me, sometimes you want to take a break after mixing, rolling, cutting, baking, etc. If you want to save your decorating for the next day, store your cookies in a tupperware container with a slice or two of bread! Keeps the cookies from drying out and becoming hard.
If you get a chance to try the recipe, let me know how it goes! AND, if you have any secret weapons for great royal icing, send my way!