sugar cookies


makes about 3 dozen

While poking around in a cookware store recently, we wandered into the baking section and came upon a handsome set of cookie cutters. They made us want to bake buttery little sugar cookies, which immediately made us think of our friend Katherine Yang. She is an exquisite baker whose pastries and desserts always balance sweet and savory perfectly—a quality we love because we’re really not big dessert eaters. We bought the cookie cutters and gave Katherine a call. Ever gracious, and in fact delighted that we asked, she shared her recipe for these tender, subtly sophisticated cookies. Just the kind we had in mind.

Like most bakers, Katherine relies on measuring her ingredients by weight, not volume, for the most consistent results. We agree, but have included both methods below in case you don’t have a scale. We found two other points in her meticulous notes that really did make a difference: letting the dough rest in the refrigerator, and making sure the dough is always cold when it’s being worked. What’s that expression?—God is in the details.

2 cups (284g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (7g) kosher salt
1 large egg (50g)
1 large egg yolk (20g)
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) (227g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (52g) powdered sugar, sifted
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (15g) vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Decorating sprinkles and sugars or other cookie decorations, optional


Sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside. Lightly whisk together the whole egg and egg yolk in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean paste in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until just combined. Add the sifted flour and beat just until the dough is smooth.

Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper into 8"× 12" sheets. Lay one sheet on a flat work surface and put a quarter of the dough in the center. Lay another sheet on top of the dough then roll the dough out between the sheets until it is ¼–⅛ inch thick. Transfer the rolled-out dough to a flat tray. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking the sheets of dough on top of each other on the tray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Take one sheet of dough out of the refrigerator at a time. Peel off the top sheet of parchment. Use a cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes, leaving them in place. Dust the cutter with a little flour if the dough begins to stick.

Using a thin spatula, transfer the cut out shapes to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Decorate them, if you like, with decorating sprinkles and/or sugars. Refrigerate the cut-out shapes on the baking sheet until cold. Repeat until all of the dough has been cut into shapes. Refrigerate the dough whenever it becomes too soft to work with. Re-roll the scraps between sheets of parchment paper, refrigerate dough until firm, and repeat the process until all the dough has been cut out.

Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking, until they are slightly puffed and the edges are pale golden brown, 10–12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

COCONUT COOKIES—Follow directions for making Sugar Cookies dough, substituting 1 teaspoon coconut extract for the vanilla.

LEMON COOKIES—Follow directions for making Sugar Cookies dough, substituting 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice for the vanilla.

NUT COOKIES—Follow directions for making Sugar Cookies dough. Sprinkle the tops of the cut-out dough with some chopped nuts before baking them. You’ll need about ½ cup chopped nuts. Don’t use toasted nuts; the raw nuts will toast while baking.

ORANGE-ROSEMARY COOKIES—Follow directions for making Sugar Cookies dough, substituting freshly grated zest of 2 oranges (1½–2 tablespoons) and 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves for the vanilla.



[ you can find this recipe in Canal House Cooking Volume N° 5, The Good Life ]