I have a foodie confession to make. You know those super soft, frosted sugar cookies in the plastic container at the grocery store? The kind that come in different color schemes depending on the season or upcoming holiday? I have never bought them myself but if someone else ever offered me one, I was all over it. I’ll admit it…I love them. Well, I used to love them. That was until I found a homemade version of soft frosted sugar cookies that blows those out of the water. Where those tasted slightly artificial, these taste buttery and delicious.
I’ve seen quite a few knock-off recipes for the store bought version but most of them involve a boxed cake mix. I don’t really see the point in making your own if they still contain the laundry list of preservatives and flavorings included in the commercial sort. This recipe doesn’t call for a box mix and uses just the basic ingredients you are likely to find in most sugar cookies. Topping them with various colors of frosting and sprinkles makes them easily customized for any party or holiday. I made them in red, yellow, green and blue for Andrew’s birthday party and they were a hit. My only problem now? These taste so much better than the kind from the store and I know how to make them and when I do, I end up with a whole batch at home. That’s kind of a problem, but at least it’s a good problem to have :)
For the cookies:
4½ cups all-purpose flour
4½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
7-8 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)
Food coloring (optional)
To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set. (Do not overbake! The edges should be no more than very lightly browned if at all.) Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To frost the cookies, place the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies. (If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable.) Top with sprinkles if desired. Store in an airtight container.