Right up there with piping frosting roses or rolling fondant, cut-out cookies are the bane of many dessert enthusiasts’ existence- At least as much is true for myself. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to fuss over one dough, just to beat it into submission so that it looks like adorable miniature people, or animals, or whatever else those metal torture devices otherwise known as cookie cutters so desire. It would be a whole different story if we were talking about a rich, buttery croissant, but all this hassle purely for aesthetic purposes? No thanks, I’d rather make something ugly but delicious in most cases.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to one’s tastes, however, and with a holiday as cutesy as Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it suddenly hit me that the time was right to tackle those most irritating cut-out cookies yet again. Because there have been requests, and because I love you guys, consider it an early V-Day gift to share and eat alike. The name of the game is to just keep it super simple.
So simple, in fact, that I didn’t bother decorating them after they were baked. To save time and misery, I piled on the colored sugar and sprinkles before the cookies hit the oven, so once the kitchen timer went off, they were completely done, ready to be wrapped up and given away. It’s a small suggestion, but perhaps it can save a fellow baker an hour or two from an already jam-packed schedule. For that reason alone it seemed worth sharing.
100% frustration-free, there’s no chilling of the dough, and for someone working at a steady clip, they can be ready for sampling within a hour. Go ahead, pull out your most intricate cookie cutters, make your own crazy shapes, slice that dough to within an centimeter of it’s sugary life, because it won’t spread for anything. No more blobby, over-weight looking forest creatures here, as every line stays as sharp and crisp as you originally intended.
However, soft and chewy sugar cookies these are not; for all that ease and speed, there is a small textural trade off. Though I much prefer a delicate, pillowy cookie with the barest toothsome bite, these morsels are Crunchy, with a capital “C”. Think of them more as crisp tea cookies, much like biscotti, and you will not be disappointed.
An unintended bonus of that solid composition? They’re fantastic candidates for shipping to loved ones afar! (Just make sure they’re better wrapped and protected than those pictured above… It’s just for illustrative purposes. Don’t send cookies in plain envelopes, folks!)
Crunchy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 – 2 Teaspoons Orange or Lemon Zest
Colored Sugar or Sprinkles
Preheat your oven to 350, and line two baking sheets either with parchment paper or silpats.
In either a large metal bowl or a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. While you can certainly bring this dough together by hand, it will require some vigorous stirring, so I would advise bringing out the big guns for this one if you’ve got ‘em.
Meanwhile, combine the margarine, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Gently cook the mixture and stir occasionally, just until the margarine has melted and the sugar granules have dissolved. Pour the hot liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients, and mix well. It will become very thick and hard to mix, but give it all you’ve got and make haste- It will become only stiffer as it cools.
Turn out the smooth dough onto a lightly floured surface, press it into a ball, and roll it out to about an 1/8-inch in thickness. Cut it into your desired shapes with cookie cutters and transfer the cookies over to your prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles as desired, and lightly press the decorations in with the palm of your hand.
Bake each sheet individually for 8 – 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. You should be looking for the barest amount of browning on the edges, but nothing that’s fully golden brown. Let the cookies sit for a minute before moving them over to a wire rack to cool.
Yield Varies Depending on Size of Cookie Cutters