How to: Make Perfect Sugar Cookies

It’s the perfect dessert for any party favor. Something you can make match any occasion, any theme, any sweet tooth.  And it’s so incredibly fail-proof.

Little leaves made in the fall.

Umm, wrong!!!  There is a LOT that can go wrong with sugar cookies.  …trust me.

In this post, we’ll cover how to get bakery ready sugar cookies.  And when you show them off to your friends, you can brag that you’re the expert chef that created them. No store bought cookies here!

  1. Find a good recipe.
    This is half the battle with any baked good. Seriously, it is my pet peeve when things look amazing but taste like cardboard. No worries, I’ve collected a few good sugar cookie recipes for you. 🙂   Click here and here.
  2. Make sure your butter is softened, but not too soft.
    There is nothing more frustrating than cutting out a perfectly shaped cookie, only to have it become a blob in the oven. Having the butter softened, but not melted, will ensure proper distribution of the butter throughout the batter, while leaving little pieces of butter throughout.  These pieces of butter will slowly melt in the oven, leaving pockets of air (a fluffier cookie) and the cookie will hold its shape if the butter doesn’t melt and cause it to spread. But it’s VERY important you also read #3!
  3. Chill out.
    Like I said, you don’t want your dough to spread too much.  So be sure to chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30min before you roll and cut the dough.  Then, put the dough into the oven when it’s COLD.  Why? The butter won’t melt as quickly, the dough won’t spread as badly, and the cookie will keep its shape.  Voila! You’ll also want to chill the dough again if it becomes warm or sticky when you’re rolling and cutting, AND between batches.  Don’t let it sit at room temp for longer than 10-15min if you can help it.
  4. Make a mess.
    Use a lot of flour to roll out your cookies.  No one is getting an award for cleanest kitchen here. So don’t be afraid to get a little messy.  This includes the counter, floor (if you’re like me), clothing, whatever. The important part is making sure your cookie dough doesn’t stick to the counter top.  Cookies just don’t look the same after they’ve been scraped off of the counter…
  5. Add some flour to your cookie cutter.
    Dip your cookie cutter in flour between each cookie you cut out.  This will ensure the dough won’t stick to the cookie cutter.
  6. But keep it clean.
    Keep your baking pans clean and the cookies from sticking to the baking sheet by using parchment paper.  Line your baking sheets with the paper to be sure your cookies come off clean. You do not have to change the parchment paper between batches, either.  Another option would be to use a silicone baking mat…but I’ve never liked the smell those put out when they’re in the oven.
  7. Don’t over bake.
    I don’t know about you, but I like my cookies a little soft on the inside.  Achieve this by not over baking.  Leave the cookies in just until they’re brown around the edges, then take them out and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a baking rack to finish cooling.
  8. Allow pans to cool between batches.
    I know you’re tired of me talking about cookies spreading too much, but this goes back to that point.  If your cookie sheets are still hot when you put the next batch of cookies on, you’re asking for the dough to heat and spread prior to baking.  Don’t do it!! Either stock up on cookie sheets or wait a while between batches.
  9. Choose the right frosting.
    This is fairly self-explanatory.  Too runny and your design will be ruined.  Too thick and it will look gloopy (technical term) and will take a lot longer to harden. I love Wilton’s cookie icing.
  10. Accentuate your design, but keep it simple.
    Designs and decorations are great, but you’re working on a cookie, not a wedding cake. Simple and clean designs are great for cookies.  Too much detail and intricacies may make your cookie look too busy.

Bam! Now you’re a sugar cookie pro! Go forth and conquer, LBSters.

Still think it’s too difficult or too much work?  I won’t tell anyone if you go to a bakery to buy them. 🙂

Share your pictures or cookie-making experiences below!

Don’t want to roll and cut them? No worries. They’re just as delicious if they’re round.

Vegan Baking Tips, and Life Updates

There’s been a BIG response to my gluten free baking tips. So how about some tips for vegan baking??

Ok, so there are a couple of reasons for this “tips” post instead of another recipe. Truth is, life has been so busy lately that I’ve been severely slacking on making up recipes. Or even trying new recipes.

Hopefully, this will change soon and I’ll be back with lots of new things for all of you to try. Here’s what’s been happening in my life lately:

  • I turned another year older!! July 13th was my birthday, and even though I greatly dislike getting older, I love birthdays!! Funny thing? I totally didn’t have a birthday cake. My mom, sister, and oldest niece came to visit and bought a small cookie cake for us to share. Plus birthday gelato. I was so busy with cake orders and the TMNT cake you’ve seen that I didn’t have patience time to make another one.

    Birthday gelato! Yummmm

  • Little Bit Sweet, the business, is growing!! I’ve been very blessed to have more orders lately, and I’m starting to learn the ins and outs of organizing a small business. Holy cow it’s difficult! Especially when you have a science, not financial, mind. But I’m loving the learning experience for sure.
  • Work!!! As many of you know, I’m also a pediatric dietitian. And I’ve gotten pretty lazy respectful of my time at night. It’s a lot of work coming up with recipes and writing….and I’ve been slacking. Telling myself that it happens to the best of us. 🙂
  • Concerts, visiting family, seeing old friends. All fun things. Especially the concerts! I saw John Mayer & Phillip Phillips on my birthday, and will see Train, Maroon 5, and Kelly Clarkson in the coming months. Yay!!

    John Mayer mania. Look at all of the people!! And this was just the lawn seating.

Now that you’ve caught a glimpse at what’s been happening on the home front, how about we get into today’s post?

GF Vegan Cupcakes

Vegan baking is something I totally got into by chance. A few of my dear friends are vegan, and wanted to include them in celebrations. So I worked to make recipes vegan-friendly. Then, I got the order for gluten-free & vegan rainbow cupcakes. I HAD to learn at that point.

There have been opportunities to learn from failure….like the time I set the oven aflame.

But I learned a few things along the way. Vegan or have vegan friends? Here are a few tips for you:

  1. Use an egg replacer…a good one.
    One that will not cause the batter to explode and start an oven fire. Meaning, do NOT use baking powder and water to make an “egg” if you already have another leavening agent in the recipe.
    My favorite egg replacer is Ener-G Egg Replacer. You mix the powder with some water and use it just like a regular egg. I’ve also tried making a flax egg (1 Tbsp flax seed + 3 Tbsp water), but it will cause your baked product to have flecks of flax in it….leading people to ask “what’s in this?” If you’re making a muffin or bread of some sort, a flax egg works perfectly because there’s already flecks of stuff in the batter. As a general rule, though, I use Ener-G “eggs.”
    **Note: these replacers don’t work for custards and will also not replace egg whites for meringue…still working on figuring out replacements for those**
  2. You’ll need a milk substitute, of course.
    I tend to always use soy milk. Works like a charm, usually. And for baked goods such as cakes or muffins, I like using light vanilla soymilk for that little bit of vanilla flavor. Coconut milk, almond milk, and others are also said to work as well. I just haven’t tried them.
  3. Recipe call for butter? No problem.
    Use a vegan-friendly “butter.” My friend Rachael directed me toward Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and I haven’t turned back. (Seriously, I’ve learned what I know about vegan baking from her.) The buttery sticks work just like butter or margarine. You can also replace most or all of the butter with a fruit puree like unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana, but it will yield a different texture for the final product.
    Another tip: if the recipe calls for softened butter, substituting oil will also yield a different final texture. Butter (or “butter” in this case) when still cold and incorporated throughout the baked good, makes little air bubbles in the final product as it bakes and melts. So using oil instead of “butter” makes things a bit more dense…because these tiny bubbles won’t form in the batter.
  4. Chocolate chips can be dairy free.
    Look for it on the package. My favorite is the Enjoy Life brand.

    Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Try using vegan buttery sticks & non-dairy chocolate chips in this awesome recipe.

  5. If your recipe calls for buttermilk:
    Place 1 Tbsp vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough soymilk to make 1 cup total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. It will curdle and look disgusting. Fear not. Mixes in just fine and is a perfect replacement for buttermilk.

And there you have it! You’re a vegan baking pro.

Well, not just yet probably….there’s a lot more to it than these 5 simple tips. But at least this will get you started.

Now back to my hectic schedule. Today, I’m baking my dad and grandpa a birthday cake. Fun!

Have a great day!!