By sharing this recipe with you, I may, inadvertently, be killing all hopes of a social life. I can't tell you the number of times I've been invited to a party and the host on the phone says, "Oh and you'll bring the cookies, right?" I got this recipe from my mom, who got it from her friend Elaine. So the proper name for these guys is" "Elaine's Sugar Cookie Cutouts," but friends have given them the nickname of "crack" cookies and it stuck. I love making them because they are the most decadent, easy to make, and down right addictive morsels you will ever sample. They are essentially a rich buttery almond-flavored shortbread and their nickname comes from the fact that they are very delicate and break easily- also they are made with an obscene amount of powdered sugar. Let's begin, shall we?
THE INGREDIENTS (AKA "Usual Suspects")
- 3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
- 2 cups (4 sticks) salted or unsalted butter @ room temperature -> many bakers argue that you've got to use unsalted...but I'm a rebel by nature
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 2 eggs
I've actually given you the ingredient list for a double batch (which will make around 3 dozen cookies). My motto is "GO BIG OR GO HOME," but usually I just do both!
I just need to take a moment and say that I am in love with almond extract. It might be my most favorite of extracts, right next to vanilla, of course :) It gives the cookies that special punch and people always think I spent a fortune on almond paste and I smile and say, "it's just the good ol' almond extract..." Hey, that could be a ol' timey song title: "In the Good Ol' Almond Extract"...sorry the "crack" cookies make me go all whimsical.
- Beat butter and powdered sugar until well blended
- Add eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes) -> see picture above :)
- Combine dry ingredients and add to batter, stir to blend
- Divide dough into 4 balls and put each between waxpaper and roll to flatten
- Refrigerate about three hours to overnight (yes, you can freeze the dough and use it later)
***here's a tip...if you plan on leaving these in the fridge overnight, you may want to also put them in a ziplock bag. One time I didn't and there were onions in the fridge and I ended up with onion/almond flavored cookies...they were not so good...I still ate them...
TIME TO BAKE
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Take out the dough when you are ready to roll (you want it to be as cool as possible when it goes into the oven) -> warning you will want to eat all of the dough because it tastes like heaven
- To avoid eating all the dough, you can make a pig man face out of the leftovers and tell yourself, "You cannot eat the pig man. He has feelings. He has a nose. He is the pig man." But you will eat the pig man and you will feel very little remorse about it.
- Roll on lightly floured surface (the wax paper if you want to skip on clean up) to 1/8" thickness...sometimes if it's been a rough day I make it a 1/4" and go to town!
- Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut into shapes -> generally I just use a 2 inch circle shape because these cookies don't always take so well to the fancy shapes
- Bake at 375 F for 7-8 minutes on lightly greased cookie sheets
- Watch the cookies like a pastry hawk because you must take them out of the oven at the first sight of golden-ness!
- 2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (yum!)
- 1/4 cup milk
- food coloring (if you're feeling fancy)
This icing can tend to be a bit thin, so feel free to add more powdered sugar until you get your desired consistency.
Some plain janes
Some mellow yellows
Some Ghostbuster Greens
You can even go crazy and do red. Warning: you will feel like you are in a Scorcese film...
You can even go completely beserk and make a "Twister" board like I did for a recent game night. Right hand- blue!
So, there you have it. The most insanely addictive cookies you will ever try. But, don't take my word for it :)