Lemon & Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

There is nothing more basic than a sugar cookie and if you’re like me they taste best plain and warm straight from the oven!  However, there are times where decorating the cookie can turn a plain cookie from good to great.  Since it is Easter I decided to jazz up some sugar cookies with fun, pretty decorations that I think anyone can do. I came across this awesome recipe from Annie’s Eats that are so good I didn’t change a thing.  They are very simple to make, took me maybe about 20 minutes to prep.  Honestly, before I found this recipe I used the prepackaged stuff (I know that’s horrible coming from a culinary student, lol) but these were so easy I don’t think I’ll ever go back.  The main thing I found most important was to make sure to get the desired thickness of the cookies (about 1/4 inch) when rolling the dough and cutting them.  Also, make sure not to let them brown at all.  This allows the cookies to still be somewhat soft even after they’ve cooled.  This was also my first attempt at using royal icing so I will be posting the recipe for that very soon.  Hope you enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Zest of half a lemon (or the zest of a whole lemon, if you love lemon)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until blended.  Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1-2 hours.
  3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375˚ F.
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll the dough out on a well floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters as desired and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until fully cooked but not at all browned.  Allow to cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate as desired.

 

Source: Annie’s Eats (http://annies-eats.com/2010/04/02/sugar-cookies-revisited/)

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Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

It’s kind of funny when I make these cookies everyone loves them and always asks for the recipe.  Little do they know it’s on every package of Nestle chocolate chip bags in the store!  I’ve included some tips that I’ve learned along the way but really it’s just a basic cookie recipe.  Adding toffee was something I came up with one day after finding a bag of toffee chips in the cabinet.  I figured, hey why not?  And a star was born.

 

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

 

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup toffee chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until pale and creamy. On the Kitchen Aid mixer I use speed 4 four about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate and toffee chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop by rounded scoops onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. I usually bake for exactly 10 minutes so their still browned but will be soft once they cool.  Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Make sure you don’t let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for more than 2 minutes because the bottoms will continue to cook and become hard.

 

Slightly adapted from Nestle Toll House: http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/Original-NESTL%C3%89-TOLL-HOUSE-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies/detail.aspx

 

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