With all of the baking I do, I am VERY rarely tempted by the sweet treats available at the grocery store. Whether it's prepackaged crackers and cookies, or the pastries sitting in plastic containers in the bakery section, I know a homemade version is pretty much always going to be better, even if it requires some extra effort on my part. But those giant soft sugar cookies with the too sweet frosting? They're my kryptonite. I bought them all the time when I was in law school and then mindlessly snacked on way too many while I crammed for exams. Those cookies haven't made it into my grocery cart in quite some time (years probably) but they always catch my eye and I consider it for just a moment. Needless to say, I was totally stoked when this homemade version started showing up on different blogs in my Google Reader.
Do you want to know how much I loved these cookies? They were such a big hit that as soon as I tried the first one I knew I wasn't sharing them with anyone. If you stop by this site regularly you know that I usually mention offering the things I bake to friends/family/neighbors/etc. Not these cookies though; Shane wasn't interested in trying them either, so the whole batch was for me (well, technically a half batch since I halved the recipe). They're soft and cakey in texture, with a buttery, sweet flavor - pretty much exactly as I remember the store-bought ones, only 100 times better! Mine have now lasted for 5 days, and while the frosting looks a little worse for the wear, the cookies taste as good as they did on day one. Speaking of the frosting, I let mine get too thin and was then too impatient to fix it so it sort of ran down the sides rather than sitting neatly on the top, as I'd have liked. No worries, I'll gladly make this recipe over and over again until I get it right :)
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
from Annie's Eats (who adapted from Hostess with the Mostess)
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7-8 tablespoons milk (plus more, as needed)
food coloring (optional)
To make the cookies: Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture a little at a time, beating just until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Measure about 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie (I used a scale - it was about 55-60g per cookie). Roll the dough into balls then place on the prepared cookie sheets and press to flatten just slightly (seriously, just a little - they'll spread as they bake), spacing them at least 2 inches apart (I baked 6 per sheet). Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are just set. Don't overbake or they won't have the soft texture you want. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to the racks to cool completely.
To make the frosting: Combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and milk in a large bowl, and whisk to combine. If necessary, you can add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you have the consistency you want. Add food coloring, if desired, and whisk to combine. Frost the cooled cookies with an offset spatula. Top with sprinkles if desired and set aside to let the frosting set. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies