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Ideal Sugar Cookies

Soft cookie dough loses its shape when moved; to retain crisp cut edges, refrigerate dough until firm before baking. Note: This recipe is adapted from "The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook" (Oxmoor House, 2003.)

  • yield: Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Royal Icing Recipe, optional

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; mix until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg, brandy, and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

  2. Step 2

    Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  3. Step 3

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

  4. Step 4

    On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

  5. Step 5

    Decorate with Royal Icing, optional.

Source
The Martha Stewart Show, December/January 1994

Reviews (26)

  • 13 Feb, 2014

    Hi. I tried this recipe with my sister and I guess we might of did something wrong. Maybe too much flour, or too little sugar. It just didn't taste sweet enough to me. I'm sure it's a wonderful recipe, I just believe I made it wrong.

  • 9 Dec, 2013

    I chilled the dough for 2 hours the dough was light and tender not sticky I floured my rolling pin to prevent it from sticking I put them on parchment paper and they turned out so tender but crisp they melted in my mouth I will make this recipe a lot

  • 12 Mar, 2013

    These cookies taste amazing! I followed the recipe to a T, but I was worried when my dough came out sticky and nearly unmanageable like some other reviewers have said. But I rolled up my nd vowed not to let the dough win! I gave this recipe 4 stars only because no matter what i did, the cookies still puffed up and lost some of their shape in the oven. If you are going to pick out a Women T-shirts as a gift.

  • 13 Feb, 2013

    Am I doing something wrong? I made the recipe exactly as stated and put it in the fridge for over two hours. When I took it out, it was too gooey to roll and cut out. Help!!!!

    What can I do differently?

  • 22 Dec, 2012

    These cookies taste amazing! I followed the recipe to a T, but I was worried when my dough came out sticky and nearly unmanageable like some other reviewers have said. But I rolled up my sleeves and vowed not to let the dough win! I gave this recipe 4 stars only because no matter what i did, the cookies still puffed up and lost some of their shape in the oven. I won't make these again to cut cookies, but I'll most definitely make them again as rounds. They taste great even without the frosting!

  • 19 Dec, 2012

    This is THE best sugar cookie dough! You must refrigerate it and I don't use milk. I have used brandy before but I usually use bourbon vanilla extract from Trader Joe's instead. Don't let them brown!!

  • 13 Nov, 2012

    sounds yummy

  • 10 Oct, 2012

    I just made halloween cutout sugar cookies with this recipe and it worked great! I used real butter and added about 1/4 tsp of lemon extract for a little more flavor. They came out beautifully! Thank you for a great recipe!

  • 6 Jun, 2012

    I found the dough very difficult to work with. After removing from the fridge, it quickly goes to room temperature and sticks to the rolling pin, your hand and anything else it comes in contact with. :(

  • 15 Dec, 2011

    I always use this recipie. It is fantastic. However, today I tried making snowflakes with it and they wouldn't hold their shape. Any suggestions?

  • 26 Feb, 2011

    Excellent recipe, makes so many cookies. The cookie were light and fluffy. Endless decoration ideas, can prepare ahead of time and just place in freezer. I also spinkled sugar on top before placing in oven.

  • 14 Feb, 2011

    I used this last night to make Valentine's Day Cutout Cookies - and iced it with Dani Fiore's royal icing recipe...the cookies (ranging in different sizes) - took exactly 10 mintures for a perfect finish...and the icing was great. It took me three really drippy cookies...to get the hang of it...but they turned out fantastic.

  • 29 Nov, 2010

    These are light and fluffy and delicious! They are simple to make and the listed recipe doesn't require any alteration to make a great cookie. Will definitely use this as my go-to Sugar Cookie recipe.

  • 11 Feb, 2010

    Can the Ideal Sugar Cookie dough be frozen?

  • 29 May, 2009

    anyone know how to make the sugared flowers?

  • 4 May, 2009

    where are the directions and recipe for the baby carriage cake?
    Lori on M.D.I.
    llsj61@hotmail.com

  • 14 Feb, 2009

    In reply to the baking powder leaving a metallic aftertaste: Most baking powders have ALUMINUM in them - perhaps your metallic taste comes from that?? Instead why not try an aluminum-free baking powder, like RUMFORD brand. I switched to it some time ago and LOVE it. I see no reason to add extra aluminum to our diets!

  • 22 Dec, 2008

    I dont understand why a sugar cookie recipe has to have baking powder in its formula. I always omit this ingredient. For me, creaming butter and sugar is enough to leaven the dough. Besides, baking powder leaves a metallic after-taste.
    Thank you folks for sharing this perfect recipe.

  • 22 Dec, 2008

    I dont understand why a sugar cookie recipe has to have baking powder in its formula. I always omit this ingredient. For me, creaming butter and sugar is enough to leaven the dough. Besides, baking powder leaves a metallic after-taste.
    Thank you folks for sharing this perfect recipe.

  • 27 Oct, 2008

    I made these for my nephew for halloween to decorate. It was the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever used. Tasty and the dough was a dream to handle! Excellent!

  • 12 Sep, 2008

    I made these and they were just ok. I wouldn't make them again though. The best cookie ever is Marth's vanilla malted cookies. They are truly the best. Everyone loves them.

  • 2 Aug, 2008

    I made 10 dozen of these cookies for the dessert reception at my wedding and they were awesome! I highly reccommend these, very tasty and bake really nicely.

  • 13 Feb, 2008

    These cookies are fantastic. The yeild is not that many, but perhaps because I used a large heart cookie cutter. They are buttery, flavorful, and so good! I made them over the weeend, and stored in a zip bag, and they did not get rock hard. I really, really like them. They are sweet, but not too sweet. I will use this as my sugar cookie recipe from now on!

  • 10 Feb, 2008

    I am by not a baker. I am not that good with the whole baking thing. But my daughter wanted to bake cookies for vanlentine's day and decorate them with each class mates name on them. I made 5 dozen !!!! They turned out fantastic. This recipe will be one of my all time favorites. thanks Martha. It was a good thing.

  • 31 Jan, 2008

    I made quite a few sugar cookies for my daughter's first birthday, but I made them with a lady bug cookie cutter. This was very easy and any leftovers I just froze. So far this is a favorite for us. Ours came out quite tasty.

  • 30 Nov, 2007

    With this cookie it's all about show! It's not a very tasty cookie but if you're skilled, they can be a showstopper. I'm entertaining the idea of starting my own line of cookies for brides and other special occasions. I have a background in art and feel that has been a big part of why I do what I do. For all of you out there in the food business, it can be a rat race. Hang in there and do what you love to do, it will pay off in the end.