Easy Cut-Out Vanilla Sugar Cookies with Orange Zest

It’s less than a week to Christmas!

Christmas is usually a jolly (and busy) period for me; gatherings and catching up with my favorite family and friends, company events, and clearing as much work before the year comes to an end. Before this year comes to a close, I wanted to ramp up my baking list as much as I can before I hit a new chapter in life next month – to study! It’s scary shit thinking about returning back to school, books and exams after being academically detached for a couple years, but I guess it will be for the better, I hope?

Anyways, I made no cake this weekend! I actually had this Sugar Cookie recipe by The Kitchn archived for a long time since I started reading up on the difference between a Sugar Cookie and Butter Cookie (no, I haven’t figured out a distinct differentiation between those) and it seems really neat to have a cookie dough that holds its shape well during the cookie cutting process. I tried the recipe last Saturday and the dough was very soft after the final mixing. It was, however, manageable though it had to be kept constantly chilled before the cookies could be cut out easily with the cookie cutter. You could see below photos of my first attempt; although I would blame the result of several odd shaped or uneven thickness cookies on my virgin Sugar Cookie effort.

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Today, I decided to give a second try using a slightly different recipe posted by Haniela’s. The recipe is almost identical to The Kitchn’s, except that Haniela’s omits the use of cream cheese and uses a higher quantity of vanilla. However, although both recipes called for 3 US cups of flour, I’ve used 375g on my first attempt based on an online measurement converter and 450g using Haniela’s recipe since she had specified the equivalent metric unit in her recipe. 125g per US cup vs 150g per US cup – that’s almost a 17% difference in weight which can make a difference in baked goods. I read an article on someone that had weighed her unit cup of flour each time she scoops out her flour the same way and the weight could vary significantly from 113g to 142g. So the best solution? Find a recipe that comes with metric measurements – at the minimum, it had been tried and tested.

As it turned out, with the larger amount of flour, the dough turned out visibly more cohesive, do not stick to surfaces, and rolled out smoothly. I like it!

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I also DIY-ed my own rolling guide by rolling up some magazine paper and taping (waterproofing) them together so that a uniform thickness (5mm, in my case) of dough could be rolled out.

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Place parchment paper (not shown) over rolling guide and dough and roll away!

For decoration, on my first attempt, I sieved cocoa powder (you may use any preferred powdered flavoring) over the acrylic stencils but I felt that they did not entirely dry out after baking and also made the design appear grainy. On the second attempt, I dipped a brush in the powders and brushed it over the cookies, creating a flatter and uniformly painted design. I felt that this made the cookie looked more polished.

How do you decorate cookies besides conventionally coating it with a thick layer of icing? Let me know in your comments below!

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Sifting cocoa powder over stencil, resulting in grainy and slightly damp surface when baked
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Brushing powders over stencil, resulting in smoother and completely dry surface

I baked the cookies at 190C for about 12 minutes and they were slightly too brown at the sides and on the underside. I would try baking at 180C on the third attempt. Third try’s a charm! By the way, those cookies shown in the picture above that were used to lined the bottom of my Pyrex dish were baked for 15 minutes and were obviously over-baked. They were just there… for lining the dish so the cookies that were meant to be photographed do not slip.

Enjoy baking!

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Tanned Totoro (L), Asian Totoro (M), Nauseous? Totoro (R)

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 Happy colleagues!

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2 thoughts on “Easy Cut-Out Vanilla Sugar Cookies with Orange Zest

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