When I test recipes, it usually takes between 3 and 15 trials before I declare a favourite [and put an end to the obsession]. But when I tried Gina DePalma’s sugar cookie recipe, I couldn’t imagine myself feeling compelled to try another sugar cookie recipe ever again. Gina DePalma is an award winning pastry chef that worked at Mario Batali’s Babbo Restaurant in New York City.
My family is usually indifferent to cookies, but when I presented them with these over last year’s holidays, they devoured them and requested hundreds more. I baked them 3 more batches before having to cut them off, despite their pleading. They’ve asked a few more times over the past year, and I’ve insisted that they wait until the next holiday season. But now that the holidays are fast approaching, and I am very busy with work and courses, I’ve decided to dedicate my [little] free time to trying all new recipes this year. So I’m posting this recipe without a photo (for now), because I just had to share it. It is so good that I’d hate for you and your families to miss out too.
These thin cookies are delicate and crispy with the perfect amount of sweetness, so they are meant to be enjoyed plain. If you’re looking to decorate cookies, I suggest using this sugar cookie recipe instead, as it will withstand the royal icing much better (recipes here).
The Best Sugar Cookies Recipe
makes 40 to 60 cookies; adapted from Gina DePalma
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons canola or other flavorless oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time until well combined. Then beat in the oil, vanilla extract, and lemon zest if using. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Then beat in the dry ingredients on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it over night. Since these cookies are so thin, the dough needs to be cool the whole time that you’re working with it.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Working with 1/3 of the dough at a time, you have 2 options:
1. Roll the dough out onto a silpat (silicone) mat to 1/8th of an inch in thickness. Press cookie cutters into the dough, 1 1/2 inches apart from each other. Then simply peel off the excess dough surrounding your cookies. Gather the dough scraps into a ball and chill them in the fridge before rolling it out again. Transfer the silpat mat (with the cookies) to a baking sheet.
2. Alternatively, you could roll the dough out onto a work surface that has been lightly floured with icing sugar or flour. The dough should be 1/8th of an inch thick and cool in temperature. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough. Then transfer the cookies to a silpat mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart. Gather the dough scraps into a ball and chill them in the fridge before rolling it out again.
Bake until they are just turning golden along the edges, about 7 to 11 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a minute or two until they set enough to be moved. Then carefully slide them onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Optional: Dust lightly with some icing sugar prior to serving. Store the cookies in an airtight container.