Easy High-Altitude Sugar Cookies! Operating word: easy.
It’s go time, people. We’ve got just a couple of weeks to get teacher gifts together, make adorable little packages of goodies for our neighbors, finish our holiday shopping, and pack in as much family-bonding time as possible before the year’s end. Are you exhausted yet? Me, too. The road to our holiday happy place can be a smidge bumpy at times.
So let’s find happy little shortcuts where we can. This recipe for Easy High Altitude Sugar Cookies can help you address a few things. First, they don’t take too long; in fact, the dough can be made up to a day ahead and rolled out whenever you’re ready. Kids love to help roll, cut, and ice the cookies, making for a fun family activity AND an adorable holiday gift for teachers, neighbors, and grandparents. And finally, they’re just simply delicious – a perfect little treat for the moments you need to take a break and sit down for five minutes with a cup of tea. Milk. Wine. Whatever.
And if you live at altitude, you don’t have to worry that your cookies will spread or come out dry and crumbly. This recipe is made for you! (sea-level friends, all you need to do to make this recipe work is double the baking powder and baking soda).
These aren’t flat, sharp-edged, crispy sugar cookies. They’re fluffy and soft, with a satisfying bite, substantial enough to hold up to being iced by children or ham-handed adults. And they’re not too sweet; they have a fresh, light vanilla flavor that balances the sweetness of sugary icing (here’s my favorite cookie icing recipe).
Speaking of icing: My cookie-icing skill level = advanced kindergartner and I have to confess to you that I dropped several F-bombs while attempting to ice these cookies into perfection. See, I’d decided I was going to make three different consistencies of icing to ensure that beautiful smooth look and clever detail you see on bakery-iced cookies. But, um, it turns out that takes a lot of time, patience, and steady hands – all of which have been in short supply this week. So yeah, that didn’t really happen for me (nor, by the way, is it in alignment with our “easy” theme).
So please share the lesson I learned from my experience, and relax about how the final product looks. If you are into making fancy icing, by all means, go for it (here’s a great tutorial), but it is also perfectly wonderful to whip up some fluffy frosting, lovingly spreading it on your cookies with a butter knife, and sprinkle on some sparkly colored sugar or tiny candy accents. Either way, they’re gonna be gleefully devoured.
Easy High-Altitude Sugar Cookies
A scrumptious, light and fluffy sugar cookie for altitudes of 8,500 feet and higher.
- Prep Time: 15 mins*
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 45 mins*
- Yield: About 3 dozen small-med cookies
- Category: Dessert, Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 TB) unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation)
3/4 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand or handheld mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in sour cream and vanilla.
Stir in flour mixture, combining gently until everything begins to clump together and forms a soft dough. If it remains wet sticky, add more flour, a little at a time, until it is handle-able. Pat dough into a rough circle, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or more (can be made the day before).
Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to soften slightly. Lay out a sheet of parchment that will fit your baking sheet. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and place dough on top. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into shapes. Lift scraps away. Bake cookies at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until tops are slightly puffed (though not brown) and bottoms are just slightly golden-colored. Let set for a minute or two, then cool fully on a baking rack. When fully cool, decorate with frosting and sprinkles. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
*prep time does not include chilling
… rolling the cookies out using flour can cause your dough to absorb too much, resulting in a tough dough. Rolling them out using powdered sugar instead adds extra yumminess without altering the texture.
… likewise, when cutting out cookies, place them carefully so that you have as few scraps as possible to re-roll out. The more you handle the dough, the more gluten it produces and if over-handled, can result in tough or dry cookies.
… to avoid misshapen cookies, roll out the dough on the sheet of parchment you’ll bake them on. Place your cookie cutters 1 inch apart, cut the shapes, and gently lift away the scraps in between. Carefully lift the sheet of parchment onto a baking sheet and bake as directed.