Cookies Recipes

How to Make Easy Sugar Cookies with Decorations

Test cook Dan Souza makes Julia a festive recipe for Easy Holiday Sugar Cookies.

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Video Transcription

[Music]the problem with most holiday cookies isthat they either taste great but theylook a little rough or they’re beautifuland taste like cardboard so obviously weset out to develop a recipe that bothlooked and tasted good but we alsowanted it to be easy because makingholiday cookies is supposed to be funDan it is funso holiday cookies are all abouttradition mm-hmm we decided to questionevery I really wanted to kind of reworkthem and see if we can come up with theeasiest cookie that baked up nice andflat on top with a really tender crispinterior I’m in alright so let’s startwith our wet ingredients have an egghere and I’m gonna add in a teaspoon ofvanilla vanilla is a classic flavor forthese if it’s missing you woulddefinitely tell we’ve also got 3/4 of ateaspoon of salt and then just a quarterof a teaspoon of almond extract just atiny amount high any bit if you use toomuch it would overpower the cookiesit’s like marzipan we think a little bitactually kind of brings out the flavorand the complexity of the cookie so I’mjust gonna whisk this together okayperfect that’s greatlet’s move on to our dry ingredients sowe’re starting with two and a half cupsof all-purpose flour and we’re gonna adda little bit of lavender so if you got alot of leavener you’re a really puffytall cookie not what you want forholiday cookies they’re gonna decorateright want a nice flat surface then hasa quarter teaspoon each of baking powderand baking soda and then I’m just gonnawhisk this together okay great so we’vegot our wet and our dry now it’s time tolook at our sugar and our butter so inmost traditional cookie recipes we’d becreaming this we’d have a stand mixerout here we’d have butter that we letsit at room temperature until it gotabout 65 degrees right and that’s so wecan incorporate lots of air when we beatit together with the sugar we’re notgonna do that totally out the windowout the window I’m gonna start with thesugar and so we found will made thisrecipe with just straight granulatedsugar that kind of a grainy texture toit and the reason is there’s not a lotof moisture in this cookie right therehow much went into it so there’s not alot of water to dissolve the sugar wealso tried with confectioner sugar whichdissolves very easily but it ends upmaking a really dense hard cookie wewanted something in the middle and wefound that superfine sugar which you canbuy at the supermarket works great youcan also make it really easily in yourfood processor so we’ve got a cup ofgranulated sugarI’m gonna process this until it ispowdery which takes about 30 secondsokay so that’s 30 seconds this isreduced to a nice powder which isfantastic so we’re gonna go in with ourbutter it’s nice and chilled right outof the fridge we’re gonna do a techniquecalled plasticizing which you see whenwe make croissants and we beat thebutter and make it pliable but it’sstill really cold and that’s gonna helpus with rolling it out you’ll see in asec and that can happen in the foodprocessor hey can we can use the bladesinstead of you know kind of manualaction so this is 16 tablespoons ofunsalted butter and 1/2 inch pieces it’snice and chilled so just gonna processthis for about 30 seconds until it’splasticize and incorporated into thesugar and scrape down if you need to tomake sure there’s no sugar hiding outhey that looks great next goes in ourliquid ingredients yeah this is totallybackwards from making a traditionalcookie we’re going crazy on this onethis is only 10 secondsand now for our flower you can just addall the flour at once added all the onesokay so we’re gonna process this againagain for 30 seconds we’re looking forit to come together no dry flour butit’s gonna be a bit crumbly okay thatlooks great so let’s pop over here I’mjust gonna dump this out on the boardbring this together really briefly kneadit at about 10 seconds here just tobring it all together boy that lookslike a nice dough to work with it isit’s really nice so I mean it’s a tinybit tacky but it’s really nice so thisis where the recipe really gets crazyI’m gonna split this dough in half andthen normally at this point softenedbutter would be so sticky yeah we try toroll it or anything like that it’ssticking to our rolling pin it’s a totalmess we’re actually gonna start rollingthis out now well that’s still warmnormally take it out of the fridge it’shard as a rock right we’re gonna totallyavoid that so I’m gonna have to startyou out on a piece of parchment here andwe’re gonna start by using our handswe’re gonna try and get this down to a 7by 9 inch oval okay just by hands andthen we’ll do some more parchment andwe’ll roll the rest beautiful all rightso now we’re gonna take our second sheetof parchment all right and that goes ontop just flatten that out and now we’regonna switch over to our rolling pinmm-hmm you can roll as you would with arolling pin but a really nice techniquethat we found is actually this pressingmotion where you start in the middle andyou push out so you can do a combinationof the two we’re going to look for a 10by 14 inch oval here really we’re tryingto get down to 1/8 of an inch thicknessthat’s great yeah all right awesome sowe’re gonna stack these up you’re notgonna cut the cookies now we’re notwe’re gonna chill before we cut andthat’s gonna help us get really niceclean edges it’s gonna be a lot easierto transfer them to the baking sheetwant to put this in the fridge now untilit’s nice and chilled before we cut itI’ll take about an hour and a half allright so Dan mentioned that plasticizedbutter is the key to this recipe so thatyou can roll it out right away withoutchilling it now what is plasticizedbutter well a lot of the fat and coldbutter is in the form of big crystalswhen we pound cold butter with a rollingpin or in our case chop the butter upwith the blades of a food processor webreak those large fat crystals intosmaller crystals and it’s the smallercrystals that make the butter moremalleable so we’re able to roll out thatdough right away so this has been anhour and a half and it’s nice andchilled I’m going to give you your doughbacka couple cool tricks here we’re gonnafirst peel off this top layer alrightcomes right off then we’re gonna put itback on okay I don’t then we’re gonnaflip it over I know this stretch knowsso the dough doesn’t stick to the bottompiece of parchment when you’re cuttingout the cookies and then take this topone off and we will get rid of this onenow we’re getting the real fun we’regonna make some shapes so I have atriangle and a square I’ll give you astar in a circle yeah I thought youliked those so we’re just gonna cut themout and then transfer them over to ourcookie sheets here now this has reallygreat airflow across the whole surfacewe get really great results so there isa reason for cookie sheets there is yeswe don’t use them very much but cookiestime to use them if you want to get asmany as we can out of hereso the good news is you can definitelyreroll what’s left oh good yes we canreroll it flatten it back out and thenyou just want to chill it again beforeyou work with it beautiful absolutelybeautifulmost of the decorating we’re gonna doafter the fact but I really like thesugar cookies too we just get a nicecovering you want to do it before youbake that okay so basically you want touse a nice heavy hand and really coverthe top you can smooth it out if youhave a big pile of anywhere don’t worryabout getting it on the sheet it’s apretty low oven and we’re not gonna bakefor that long so it’s not gonna burn orBrown all right so just give it a nicethick coating yeah that was beautifulall right beautifulokay let’s bake yours first okay we’regonna go into a 300-degree oven on thelower middle rack we’re gonna bake themfor 14 to 17 minutes or at sittinghalfway through we’re gonna get just alightly browned on top we don’t wantthem to get really dark oh I love thatsmell so butteryyou look beautiful so these are gonnarest for five minutes like this thenwe’ll get them off the sheet in themeantime we’re gonna bake off thissecond batch alright so we have somebeautiful cooled cookies here the sugarones right now but these other ones arelooking a little plain so I think wewant to decorate them fun and for thatwe need a royal icing so this is thetraditional topping for these cookies itdries this gorgeous kind of matte finishand we’re not breaking from tradition atall for this we’re going really reallyclassic so I’ve got two and two thirdscups of confectioner’s sugar in the bowlhere and I have two large egg whiteshalf a teaspoon of vanilla extract aneighth of a teaspoon salt so it’s reallyclean flavor he’s really about thatsweetness andthe beauty of it just a little vanillajust a little bit we’re gonna start thison medium-low so we don’t kickconfectioner sugar all over the kitchenand it’ll just come together about aminute so now that that’s come togetherwe’re gonna strip to medium high andwe’re gonna whip until we get nice softpeaks okay so that’s been three minutesand we’ll take a look and I soft Pete’sthere all right we’re good now if youare worried about using raw eggs in thisfrosting you could substitutepasteurized egg whites I’m gonna setaside a half a cup now we’re gonna useit for a really cool technique calledflooding the second here so it’s gonnatransfer about a half a cup to thismeasuring cup here all right do thetransfer here yeah nicely done nowbefore we get into piping I just want toshow you this cool technique so we’vegot the half a cup of reserved icing andthis is one teaspoon of milk just alittle it’s gonna thin it out justenough that we can fill on the inside ofthe cookies and get those beautifulfinish yeah it’s almost like a mirrorfinishexactly beautiful right all right sowe’re squeezing all this gorgeous icingto the tip exactly squeeze it down andthen twist it so I’m gonna pipe a littleborder for my my squares here so that Ican flood them okay so I piped my borderthere and now I’m just gonna take alittle spoon of my flooding liquid herego right in the middle and then I’musing a toothpick spreading it to theedges just take it right out to the edgeso for the flooded ones you want to letthe first-level dry completely beforeyou pipe over the top okay so now we’regetting really fancy here so I’ve gotthese beautiful draw J’s mm pearls yeahthey’re aren’t they gorgeous you can getthem in all different colors and I’musing some tweezers here yes you arebecause I there’s no way my fingerswould make this work that’s what’s greatabout these cookies I feel like you canmake them as easy sugartop or as fancyas you want them it’s really up to youlove it okay so we’ll finish decoratingthe rest of these and then they justneed to dry for another an hour and ahalf and then we’re ready to eatokay well Dan these look really badall right they are gorgeous they weren’tfun to make they don’t look goodno they’re absolutely beautiful I justwant to show you before we get an e sothis is the one that I flooded isbeautified it dry and then you just goover the top in on top but it you getthis nice height to it you’re gonna getthat one mmm tastes buttery and lighthas a little bit of good chew in themiddle but it’s crisp on the outsidethat’s so goodwhat I love is the cookie obviously hasgreat structure because it’s nice andflat and has good edges but it stilleats really really nice right it’stender crisp it’s perfect Dan these aredelicious cookies well done thank youthat was fun no place funso for perfect holiday cookies thattaste good look good and are easy tomake start by processing the sugar untilfinely ground then add chilled butterand plasticize it then have the eggalong with some vanilla and almondextract before adding the flour roll thedough out while it’s still soft thenchill it until firm before cutting outcookies after baking the cookies letthem cool completely before having funwith all sorts of cookie decorations sofrom America’s Test Kitchen our newrecipe for easy holiday sugar cookiesJune the one for this guy next mean around onethanks for watching America’s TestKitchen what you think we’ll leave acomment and let us know which recipesyou’re excited to make or you can justsay hello you can find links to today’srecipes and reviews in the videodescription and don’t forget tosubscribe to our Channel see you laterI’ll see you later

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