|Ok, they're prettier in person... And tastier...|
Also, most sugar cookies tend to be dry, crumbly or hard. These are soft and chewy. Even days later...
And they're super easy. I'll show you...
Lemon Scented Sugar Cookies
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter (softened) -- (Yes, you can use margarine. Yes, you can use salted butter, but it's gonna taste better if you just stick to the directions... You'll have to trust me on that.) Ok, softened means just that. Softened. Not melted. Your cookies will be all flat and hard if you melt the butter. 15 seconds in the microwave should be plenty. If you can't manage that kind of self control, put the butter on the counter about an hour ahead.
1 Cup of White Sugar -- Yes, plain old table sugar. The stuff most people put in coffee...
1 1/2 tsp (teaspoon) of vanilla extract -- (Note: Pure Vanilla Extract has alchohol in it. A LOT. That said, you're using a tiny amount over 6 dozen cookies. You can find fake extract that doesn't have alcohol, but I've found that it doesn't taste quite the same. Even for the 20 years where I didn't eat food with alcohol in it, I made an exception for vanilla extract. But if you're not comfortable with it, use the other, no sweat.)
1 tsp of lemon extract -- Same problem as vanilla extract, sadly. That said, I use it anyway. Here's also the place that you can be creative... You can substitute any extract you like here and the flavor of the cookie will change. I've tried raspberry extract, almond extract, anise (licorice) extract (for those of you who like the flavor of biscotti), and orange extract. I feel pretty comfortable saying that you can substitute any kind you like. Or you can just add a little more vanilla... Have fun with it. Ride the handlebars home...
2 1/4 Cups of All Purpose Flour -- (No, you may not use Cake Flour. Not wheat flour. Plain, old, all purpose flour only)
3 oz of Cream Cheese (softened) -- Give it about 15 seconds in the microwave.
1/2 tsp (teaspoon) of Salt -- Yup. Table salt. Nothing fancy here.
1 egg yolk -- Ok, if you don't know how to separate an egg, I'm gonna tell you to do it the same way I tell my 6 year old son. Go wash your hands well with soap and water, then come back. Crack the egg. Before opening it, put your hand (palm up, fingers SLIGHTLY apart) over a bowl to catch the white. Drop the egg into your hand. Allow the white to run through your fingers into the bowl. When it's done, you'll be holding the yolk in your hand. Put the bowl to the side and put the yolk into the mixture.
Colored sugar for decorating (optional)
Oven Thermometer -- If you don't have an oven thermometer (the kind that hangs from your oven rack) go buy one. They cost a couple of bucks and I promise you that your oven isn't actually the temperature that it says it is. It's not so important for cooking, but the correct temperature is essential for baking.
Measuring cups and spoons
Mixer (I use a hand mixer for this recipe, but you can use a stand mixer if you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
On medium speed (that's like a 4), beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon extract, cream cheese, salt and egg yolk. Once it's mixed well (about a minute or two), lower the speed, and start adding the flour in small increments. If you don't lower the speed, or put in too much flour at once, you'll end up cleaning flour off of everything (you, the counter, the cabinets, the floor, etc.) for the next hour or so. Take a little more time, it'll save you time in the end.)
When everything is well incorporated, stop the mixer and sepearate the dough into three approximately even balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer until hard (at least 15 -30 minutes)
Put parchment paper on the baking sheet. When hard, pull out one ball and separate it into 24 sort of even lumps. Take each one, roll it between your hands to make a ball about 1/2" or so in diameter and put on baking sheet (12 per sheet). Smush (I know it's a difficult technical term) with your fingers by pressing down until they are about 1/16" thick.
You can also roll them out and cut shapes just like you would a regular sugar cookie, but the key is to keep them as cold as possible by touching them as little as possible. You can also brush lightly (VERY lightly or you're going to have cookies that taste more like an omelette) with the egg white that you saved beaten with a little water and sprinkle with colored sugar to decorate.
Bake 7-9 minutes. They should be just the slightest bit golden around the edges when you pull them out.
Take it out of the oven and cool on a rack
To store them, put in a sealed plastic container. Store in the fridge.
Hope you enjoy! Happy Weekend!!!
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