Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Onesie Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

Completely swamped today so you'll have to forgive me if the post seems a little hurried.

I'm wrapping up various non-blogging related projects as well as handling all the baking for a baby shower. Ack!

You see, my sister has a way of volunteering to provide desserts for various social events. Of course, you know who really ends up doing the desserts?

That's right.

Today, I'm elbow deep in fondant for a baby shower cake and I've only just begun tackling my sister's wishlist. Hopefully she'll come visit and help me clean up (HINT).

So earlier this week, I was turning out batch after batch of sugar cookie dough. Burning through pounds of butter. It was a good time to experiment, as the test batches of dough were used to produced cookies for Mr. Humble's lab and this baby shower.

In the process of adjusting, toying and tweaking sugar cookie dough, I settled on a cookie recipe that I like more than Martha's. It isn't quite as dense, it has a nice texture and flavor (even without zest, spices and bakery emulsions), and retains the shape of the cutout well. So today I'm posting the recipe, along with the cute little onesie cookies I made for this baby shower.

I should note this dough is relatively high in butter and as such it needs to be handled while chilled. If that is not something you like to fuss with, or you happen to live on the surface of the sun, I recommend you skip this recipe.

Ms. Humble's Sugar Cookie Cut Outs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cups corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature*
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream

* I often call for "room temperature butter" on this blog and even though this is a standard baking term, I think I should clarify a bit, given the difference between room temperature in Alaska and Mexico. The butter just needs to lose it's chill. It should feel like a banana if you poke it, it will be firm but have some give.

The idea is that the butter has the right texture to whip, incorporating air into the butter fat. This is called creaming, and the air you beat in lightens the cookie's final texture. If the butter is too cold it will be too hard to cream and will be brutal on your beaters or stand mixer's motor. Too warm and the butter will be too soft to contain the tiny air bubbles you're attempting to beat in. Properly creamed butter takes several minutes with a stand mixer or hand beaters, it will gain some volume from the added air and will resemble pale, fluffy straw-colored frosting when you're finished.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium high speed for 4-5 minutes with the paddle attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time on low speed and then add the cream and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture, one third at a time. Mixing each addition on low speed until moistened.

The resulting dough will be similar to drop cookie dough but will firm up in the refrigerator. Divide the soft dough into two portions and wrap in plastic cling wrap. Flatten the dough into 1" thick disks and place into the coldest part of your refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. If it isn't firm after four hours and you're itching to use it, toss it into the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Once firm, pre-heat your oven to 350°F and line two or three sheet pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Grab a single disk of the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface (if it's too firm to roll let it stand for 5-10 minutes and try again). Work quickly as the cookies are easiest to transfer to your pans while the dough is still cool and firm. If the dough gets soft while re-combining scraps and re-rolling, wrap the dough in plastic and chill. Pull out the second disk of dough and begin working with that one.

Arrange your cookies on your baking sheet and transfer to the freezer. Chill the cookies on the sheet for 10 minutes before baking. If you skip this step, the cookies will spread more during baking, distorting their shape and they will not have the ideal texture.

Once cold, pop the cookies straight into the oven and bake for roughly 15 minutes, until the bottom edges of the cookies take on a golden hue.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. The cookies will keep for 10 days in an air tight container.

If you're interested in doing similar onesie cookies, I used the following large-onesie cutter from a rather cute fondant set (link)

For tips on icing cookies see my royal icing 101.

You owe me, Sis.


  1. Sooo cute! Love the decorations!

  2. Thank you for the recipe and the additional tips. I will try your recipe for my next batch!

  3. Those cookies are adorable! What a great idea for a baby shower.

  4. I'm guessing she's having a girl? These are the cutest baby shower cookies I've ever seen -- and because you made them, they'll also be edible!

    Be sure to post the cake photos. I'm sure it will be similarly perfect!

    I'm glad I'm mostly past the baby-shower stage -- having to live up to these would be way too much pressure!

  5. I am always excited to hear people's favorite recipe for something, I am anxious to see how this compares with my sugar cookie recipe, sounds like its a winner! When is lots of butter not :-) Cute lil onesies too!

  6. Good guess! It is a girl.

    All the baking is going to be in shades of pink/hot pink. The cake I'm working on now will have a similar color scheme.

    The colors are so bright my camera is having trouble handling them without pulling out the gray card (which I'm so not bothering to do today).

  7. you need to open a bakery! you have such a talent and so much patience!
    these are adorable!

  8. What adorable cookies! You did an outstanding, professional job on them. Not only that, you worked until you had a perfect dough recipe. I will try these for sure.


  9. Bakeries are the ultimate labor of love.

    Rather than ever opening my own, I like to support my local bakeries (everyone should, they're usually run by good folks). That way they put in all the effort and I get to do all the eating.

  10. impeccable cookies... oh so cute & perfect!
    your sister is very fortunate!

    i am curious as to the butter you use…i have been experimenting with european style butter & found my baked cookies "greasy"

  11. Ahh, sisters. How boring life would be without them. Beautiful cookies, Ms. Humble. I too hope to see the cake.

  12. I bake with sweet cream butter (made from fresh cream), it is the common butter type available here in the U.S..

    In Europe, I believe cultured butter (made from cultured cream) is more common. I've never baked with cultured butter, so I cannot say what the difference is between the two when it comes to baking. Though I would believe they would be fairly interchangeable.

    Perhaps an experienced cultured butter baker could chime in?

  13. You owe me! You colored my face blue with a permanent marker when we were kids!

  14. Don't make me moderate you, Natalie!

    Besides, I colored my own face too.

  15. And clearly that incident was our mother's fault. She left the permanent marker where I could find it.

    Also, you look rather attractive as a Smurf.

  16. Ms. Humble, You know very well that I could have hidden that blue pen in Fort Knox and you would have found it. You two were blue for at least a week as I remember.

    Funny, I was going to bring up the blue pen/smurf incident last week when Ms. Humble was whining about my leaving her kitchen a mess after my selfless contribution to making sure that she had enough jam to survive armageddon.

    Gratitude... I swear.

  17. I could visit this blog for the Humble Family dialogue alone. You guys are hilarious! You needn't even bake and just include transcripts of your conversations for your blog audience.
    Actually, I love your baking so please don't stop but I DO love your banter.

  18. These are darling.

    And reading your comments from your mom and sis are making my day!!

  19. These are so cute! Ill have to keep this around for when I have to go to a baby shower. Thanks.

  20. Oh my gosh, this look delicious! And so beautiful! Your photographs are gorgeous.
    I've recently launched my own blog, I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you think :)
    Thanks, and Happy Cooking!!!

  21. Hi! These cookies are the cutest baby shower cookies I've seen!
    I'm hoping you can help me out with a long-standing problem. I bought these Noric Ware 3D cookie cutters. The problem is that they are solid plastic cutters (so no opening on top to push the dough out). My husband's company moved us to India a couple years ago. I'm definitely going to try your tip on chilling the cut out cookies before putting them in the oven. But if you can help me out on how I can get the dough out intact from these 3D cutters I'd really appreciate it. Since it's so hot here, I roll the dough out & stick it in the freezer, so that I can cut out while firm. If I start rolling out after taking it out of the fridge, it's already too soft to handle! Thanks again.

  22. Ratika,

    Cutting out of very cold dough sheets is a great start. If the cookies are cold and firm you can occasionally knock them out of the cutters without them deforming. One thing I do with cutters with an annoying top is hold the sides while cutting and then apply pressure to the sides. Making them cave inward a little. When I pull the cutter back I allow the sides to pop back out and this usually releases the cookie.

  23. Thank you Ms. Humble! I will definitely try it this weekend.

  24. Tomorrow...oh, wait no, TODAY (you've kept me up so late reading your beautiful blog!) I'm going to make sugar cookies which aren't such a big thing in Ireland as the seem to be over on your part of the world. I was just wondering before i get started which recipe you prefer, this one, or the other recipe that you have previously used for sugar cookies (i think it's Martha's?)? Also, are these cookies actually tasty or are they more designed to be attractive? Either way, they are so lovely as is everything else on your blog. It's such a pleasure to read and learn and look at your wonderful photographs and try out your recipes and everything your blog entails. THANK YOU.

  25. Sugar cookie cut-outs are tasty, but honestly they're not quite as good as ordinary drop or bar cookies. Since the cookies have to maintain their shape and flatness, the baker makes some sacrifices terms of texture and flavor.

    They're just a little... boring, flavor-wise. Of course, they're designed to excite the eater with their novelty, whimsy and design, rather than an indulgent flavor.

    Keep in mind, the addition of citrus zest, cinnamon, or almond extract can improve the flavor of any sugar cut-cut out.

    As for which cookie recipe is better: I think mine edges out Martha's in terms of texture and flavor. However, Martha's is easier to throw together and handle.

  26. I'm torn. Because your sister sounds incredibly rude, but her rudeness has forced you to produce such perfectly adorable cookies.

    I think I will ignore her rudeness for now...those cookies are so super adorable!

  27. These are really delicate cookies. Very nice. I used a lot of flour in the rolling-out process (with very cold dough). So, did I under-measure it? King Arthur says a cup of AP four measures 4.5 oz. Any guidance would be humbly appreciated.

    Oh, yes, going along with the sister theme ... we made foot-shaped cookies and frosted them with purple, green and blue to match my sister's pre-foot-surgery bruises (thanks to a horse!). Seemed only appropriate to use this recipe for that purpose. She did torment me when we were younger, so this is by way of "sweet" revenge!

    Finally, echoing all the other comments about this amazing blog: thanks for the inspirations!

  28. Followed your recipe and instructions and the cookies turned out really well. I used the brush method to ice them though as piping the edge then flooding isn't my thing, too impatient. Thank you for your brilliant recipe and instructions, this is the first of your recipes I've tried. I made Autumnal themed cookies - leaves, apples and squirrels.


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