Sugar Sugar

Whatever the holiday - or if it's simply just a random Tuesday - I'm known for the shapes and sugar of my cut-out cookies!
Tiny feet and hands for a baby shower. Space Needles for a local non-profit auction. Seahorses or Anchors for a boating excursion. Lobsters for a weekend in Maine. Squirrels and acorns for a harvest wine tasting. Lips for a sassy Valentine's Day Party. Snowflakes during the winter months. Footballs for a Superbowl Party. Ice Cream Cones for a summer picnic. Ninjabread Men for the sneakiest of occasions. Whatever the case...I love to take some dough, make a shape and give the gift of sugar cookies! 
They've become so popular with my friends that they're now on a request/wait-list basis. But...no longer! Here's the special recipe that's tried and true and never fails with the fans. Now...the shape is up to you. What's your favorite shape??

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting.
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Royal Icing (optional; click here for recipe)

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in the flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatter each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat over to 325F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temp just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to just under 1/4 inch think, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. (I tend to make mine a bit thicker. Keeps them softer, chewier!) Cut out cookies with the fabulous cookie cutter of your choice, transferring shapes to parchment/silicon-lined baking sheets as you work. Roll out the scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining dough. Chill cookies in freezer until very firm, about 15 minutes before their turn in the oven. 
Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. (I don't wait until mine are too brown. They "continue baking" a bit as they cool. And this makes them less crisp/hard.) Let cool on sheets on wire racks. 
Decorate to your hearts desire...once their done cooling of course! I love the Royal Icing recipe and it can be tinted with food coloring. 
Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week. 

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