[Sorry for the quality of the photo…I took it with my iPhone at work under fluorescent lighting!]
My mom has always been a great baker. She used to bake and decorate my birthday cakes herself, from rabbit-shaped cakes to ones covered in roses and leaves. She makes the BEST Mississippi mud cake, banana cake, pumpkin pie, and the like. But one of my favorite things she bakes (and Justin’s hands-down favorite) is her sugar cookies.
She always baked these around holidays, and we’d frost them in different colors – orange pumpkins at Halloween, pink hearts at Valentine’s Day, green trees at Christmas. When I went off to college, she shipped boxes of sugar cookies for each holiday, and Justin and I devoured them in our tiny dorm rooms.
I learned my Most Important Cookie Rule from my mom: ALWAYS underbake them just a tad. If it’s golden brown around the edges, they’re overbaked. Of course they’d still be edible, but they’ll also be a bit crunchy, and seem to go hard and stale faster. When they’re just underbaked, cookies stay soft and chewy and delicious.
So here’s my mom’s sugar cookie recipe, direct from the Crisco package. :)
- 1 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored Crisco)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons milk (I used soymilk)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat shortening and sugar in large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until well blended.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to shortening mixture at low speed until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.
Heat oven to 375ºF. Roll 1/3 of dough at a time on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough with 2 to 3-inch floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
Bake 5 to 9 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer cookies to cooling rack. Frost and decorate as desired. (I just used canned cake frosting and sprinkles.)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies. (The website says 6 dozen, but that’s just a lie. Unless you make very small cookies.)
Source: Crisco.com and my Mama.