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Perfect Sugar Cookies

This recipe makes the perfect sugar cookie and by perfect I mean the dough doesn’t slide outside its edges when baked.  After they cool they’re an excellent canvas for decorating with royal icing. If you decide to forgo the decorating pastry bag they are equally delicious and still melt in your mouth.

cups (9 oz / 255 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (2 oz / 55 g) almond flour
3/4 cup (3 ½ oz / 100 g) cornstarch
1 cup (8 oz / 225  g) cool, unsalted butter, cut into 16 approximately equal pieces
1 cup (7 oz / 200 g) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract

If using convection set the racks on the upper, middle, and lower third of the oven. If using a conventional oven set the rack on the lower third of the oven.

In a medium bowl sift together the flours and cornstarch.  Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment cream the butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the sugar and salt and beat until smooth. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time until each is incorporated; then add the extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the flour mixture and mix on medium low speed just until the dough starts to come together. Tip it out onto a smooth, cold work surface, such as a counter-top. Using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you a little at a time, turning it back onto itself with a bench scraper. Do this until the dough is combined. This method of “mixing” is called fraisage. Once it’s combined divide the dough into thirds and form each into a rectangle.

Roll each piece of dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper, to a thickness of a scant ¼ – inch. (I went to the hardware store across the street and found 2 rubber rings that are the perfect depth.) After rolling out leave the dough between the parchment paper and stack on a half-sheet pan. Refrigerate for about an hour or until firm.

Before you’re ready to bake off the cookies allow enough time to preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove a “slab” of dough and cut out the cookies using your favorite cookie cutters. Gently gather the remaining dough back into a rectangle and reroll. Refrigerate the rerolled dough to firm it up and cut as you did the other cookies.  It works to reroll just once, otherwise the cookies start getting tough.

Of course on the last batch I got the idea of using the back of a paring knife to draw an indentation down the middle of the cookie to resemble the vein of the leaf. Just be sure not to cut all the way through the dough. Set each cookie about an ½-inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pop back in the refrigerator or freezer while you are lining another sheet pan with cookies.

Three pans can be baked in a convection oven or one pan on the lower third of a conventional. Regardless, they all bake for 9 – 12 minutes or until just barely beginning to brown.  Slide the parchment paper with the cookies still on it to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before decorating.