March 1, 2024

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Sugar dough to the rescue: The only cookie recipe you need for the holidays | Tulsa World Magazine

This may not be the year to host the annual cookie exchange or deliver cookies to school. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the season with fresh baked cookies at home with family.

Instead of planning weeks ahead with several varieties of dough, make a few batches of one sugar cookie dough and churn out several varieties of cookies. This firm but tender dough is perfect for cut-out shapes, sandwich cookies, slice and bake, and many other kinds.



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Sugar cookie dough is the only recipe you need for the holidays.


Sugar cookie dough

Makes 2-5 dozen, depending on the cookie

This is the only recipe I have ever used for cut-out cookies. Enjoy your sugar cookies plain or decorate them with royal icing or store-bought icing and sprinkles to make them festive.

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Turn out dough and divide in half. Flatten each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to just under ¼-inch thick, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking.

3. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut out cookies using desired cutters or templates. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets as you work. Roll out scraps and repeat once. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. Chill cookies in freezer until very firm, about 15 minutes.

4. Bake cookies, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Decorate with royal icing.

— adapted from Martha Stewart Living



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Sugar cookies are fun to decorate for the holidays.


Meringue powder can be found in the baking aisle of many supermarkets or craft stores.

2 pounds confectioners sugar, plus more if needed

⅔ cup water, plus more if needed

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons meringue powder

1. Mix sugar, water and meringue powder with a mixer on low speed until smooth, about 7 minutes. Icing should be the consistency of glue. (If icing is too thick, mix in a little more water. If icing is too thin, add more confectioners sugar).

2. Divide among smaller bowls and use food coloring to color the icing.

NOTE: For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

— adapted from Martha Stewart Living



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This giant pull-apart cookie makes one large cookie that serves up to 24 pieces.


Makes one large cookie to serve up to 24 pieces

If time is of the essence, skip the cookie cutters and roll out one giant cookie rectangle. It might take a bit longer to bake than regular cookies but decorating one cookie is just as fun!

½ recipe sugar cookie dough

Assorted candies, icing and other decorations

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out the chilled dough onto a piece of parchment paper to 13-by-9-inch rectangle. Transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Carefully lift the parchment paper to a cooling rack and cool completely.

2. Decorate the top of the cookie with your favorite color of royal icing, smoothing with a spatula into an even layer up to the edges of the cookie. Let icing dry completely before decorating with additional icing, candies or decorations. To serve, cut or break the cookie into pieces.



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Cranberry-pistachio slice-and-bake cookies are perfect for the holidays.


Cranberry-pistachio slice-and-bake cookies

½ recipe sugar cookie dough, softened to room temperature

½ cup finely chopped pistachios

½ cup finely chopped dried cranberries

Sanding sugar, for decorating

1. Keep half of a just-made recipe of sugar cookie dough in the bowl of a stand mixer or add a batch of room-temperature dough to a bowl. Add pistachios and cranberries and mix until combined. Divide dough in half, then roll each portion into a 2-inch-wide log. Wrap logs in wax paper or parchment paper and twist ends to form an even log. Chill until firm, 1 to 1½ hours.

2. Position racks in top and bottom thirds of oven. Preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Slice cookies into ¼-inch-thick rounds and roll edges in sanding sugar. Arrange 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven, switching halfway through, until cookies are set and just golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Cookies will keep well, stored in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 5 days.



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Raspberry Linzer cookies feature raspberry jam sandwiched between sugar cookies.


½ recipe sugar cookie dough

Confectioners sugar, for dusting

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thickness.

2. Cut out circles using a 3-inch round fluted cookie cutter, rerolling scraps and refrigerating as needed if the dough gets too soft. Then, using a 1-inch round fluted cutter or the end of a large piping tip, cut out the centers of half of the circles. Place all circles 1 inch apart on prepared sheets and chill for 15 minutes.

3. Bake until set and just golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Turn over solid cookies and spread a heaping teaspoon of jam on each. Dust tops of remaining cookies with confectioners sugar and set on top of jam-covered cookies.



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Chocolate-peppermint wafers are dipped in chocolate and covered in peppermint candies.


Chocolate-peppermint wafers

½ recipe sugar cookie dough

8-12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted in the microwave on 50% power

½ cup crushed peppermint candies

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each piece out ¼-inch thick. Cut into 2-inch squares. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until set and just golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

3. Dip one half of each cooled cookie into the chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, sprinkle with the peppermints, and set aside or refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Chocolate coconut sandwiches

This cross between a Hello Dolly and a Mounds bar is sure to become a holiday favorite.

½ recipe sugar cookie dough

1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut

12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Form cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Spread coconut on a plate and roll each ball in the coconut, pressing so it adheres. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

2. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

3. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl placed over, but not touching, simmering water, melt chocolate. Turn half the cookies upside down and spread the flat sides with the chocolate. Sandwich with remaining cookies.



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Thumbprints can be customized with your favorite filling.


Thumbprints can be customized with your favorite filling — Nutella, chocolate kisses, ganache, raspberry preserves or frosting. Let the fillings set before stacking cookies in containers.

½ recipe sugar cookie dough

Finely chopped nuts, crushed candies or sanding sugar, if using

Assorted jam or preserves, or chocolate kisses, for centers

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in finely chopped nuts, candies or sugar, if desired. Arrange 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Press a well into the center of each ball using your finger. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake 7 minutes. Remove tray from oven and press the well again with the handle end of a wooden spoon. Bake until firm, 7 to 9 minutes more.

3. Cool completely, then spoon filling into thumbprints.



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Sugar cookie dough gets nutty with these snowballs.


Classic sugar cookie dough goes nutty with the addition of finely chopped pecans, but feel free to substitute with your favorite nut — almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts would all be delicious substitutions.

½ recipe sugar cookie dough, softened to room temperature

¾ cup finely chopped pecans

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place cookie dough in a large bowl. Stir or knead in flour, pecans and vanilla until well blended.

2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until set but not brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to cool for 1 minute.

3. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; place on cooling rack. Roll in powdered sugar again and cool completely.



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Peppermint “candies” get their tingle from peppermint frosting.


Reminiscent of peppermint swirl candies, these slice-and-bake cookie sandwiches get their tingle from peppermint frosting. Feel free to add peppermint extract when making the sugar cookie dough (in place of vanilla) for an extra kick.

½ recipe sugar cookie dough

Peppermint frosting, if desired (recipe below)

1. Divide dough into two equal portions. Roll one portion of dough into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle on a piece of lightly floured plastic wrap.

2. Knead food coloring paste into remaining portion of dough while wearing rubber gloves. Roll tinted dough into a rectangle as directed above. Invert un-tinted dough onto tinted dough; peel off plastic wrap. Cut dough in half lengthwise, forming two 12-by-4-inch rectangles. Roll up each rectangle, jellyroll fashion, starting at one long side, using the bottom piece of plastic wrap as a guide. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until firm or up to one month.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Thaw dough until able to slice with a knife. Cut ends off each dough log and discard. Cut dough into ¼-inch thick rounds, and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart.

4. Bake until set, 7 to 9 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

5. Place peppermint frosting in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic freezer bag. Snip one corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe a heaping teaspoon of frosting onto half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies, gently pressing to form a sandwich.

Use this frosting to sandwich your favorite holiday cookies or double the batch and ice a cake or cupcakes for a peppery kick.

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

⅛ teaspoon peppermint extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Increase speed to medium, and gradually add milk and peppermint extract, beating until smooth.

Tulsa World Magazine’s 2020 Tulsans of the Year

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