It’s sort of remarkable how many memories a single cookie can hold.
I’ve been making this sugar cookie recipe since I was small enough to need a stool to reach the kitchen counter. My Mom would help me use the rolling pin and then push the cookie cutters through the dough. We’d decorate cut-out hearts with pink icing and candy cupid arrows on Valentine’s Day, pumpkins with orange icing and candy corn faces for Halloween, and trees and snowmen with red and green sugar for Christmas. When I was old enough, I took charge of rolling out the cookies for Christmas every year, and I haven’t stopped making them since.
A few years ago, I started adding a sprinkle of cinnamon make leaf-shaped cookies look even better for fall. Not only did they look more like fall, they tasted (and smelled!) more like it, too.
A couple things about these cookies…
I make my own colored sugar for decorating. I just prefer it to the sanding sugars you can buy in the store. They’re too….I don’t know….crunchy (?) for me. I use regular, granulated sugar, food coloring, a spoon, and a little elbow grease to mix everything together. You can actually make a lot of great shades with those regular McCormick colors.
Also, it’s best to have a light hand with the cinnamon, especially if your cinnamon container has dangerously large holes like mine does! (You can see my ‘whoops’ in the corner of the photo below). A little bit goes a long way. Too much, and the cookies can become bitter after they’ve been baked. I sprinkle the cinnamon first and then decorate with colored sugar on top. I usually make some without the cinnamon, too…for the purists.
Finally, I really only bake these cookies for about 7 minutes, which puts them just at the very brink of doneness. That’s how I like my sugar cookies…barely done, soft, and chewy. I know that some people like their cookies on browner end of the spectrum, though, so if you’re one of those people, just add a few more minutes to the baking time.
This recipe is highly adaptable: cinnamon or no cinnamon, icing instead of colored sugar, rolling dough into balls instead of doing cut-out shapes. Whatever you like!
- 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- Food coloring
- 1⅓ cups Crisco
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- 4 cups flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 8 tsp. milk
- Cinnamon for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place ½ cup granulated sugar into a small bowl (or divide it among as many bowls as colors you’re making). Drop food coloring into the sugar and mix completely with a spoon. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat Crisco and the remaining 1 ½ cups sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Add vanilla and almond extracts and beat to combine.
- On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter. Beat just until incorporated. Add the milk and mix to combine.
- Divide dough in half and wrap each section in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or overnight. (If you chill it overnight, it may need to warm up slightly before rolling out).
- Working in batches, roll dough out on a floured surface to ¼” thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place onto a baking sheet that’s been greased or covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle cut-out cookies lightly with cinnamon and then with with colored sugar.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and place onto cooling racks to cool completely.