Holiday time is cookie time and it’s no coincidence that sugar cookies have reigned supreme as the penultimate Christmas treat for as long as anyone can remember. The deceptively simple combination of flour, fat, flavoring, and sugar never fails to please, and though the basic recipe has remained largely unchanged for—literally—a few hundred years now, there are some insider secrets that will produce a more perfect cookie—crisp, golden, and uniform in shape and size.
- Start with ingredients that are room temperature. Butter that is too warm and soft or too stiff and cold will make all the difference in the dough.
- Use good ingredients. Simple as that. Substituting margarine for butter will affect texture and taste, as will the type of flour you choose. Whole-wheat flour may be considered a “healthier” choice, but it will produce a bland sugar cookie.
- Refrigerate the dough first and use a heavier baking sheet—cookies are less likely to burn. To prevent spread during baking, start with cold dough on cold cookie sheets.
- Take cookies out of the oven when they still look a tad underdone—they will continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet even after you remove from the oven.