Not only am I sharing a *new* sugar cookie recipe that blows my regular sugar cookies outta the water, I’m also joining a few other friends to throw Lindsay a virtual baby shower. You know Lindsay from her stunning blog packed with beautiful layer cakes and other sweet treats. She’s the best. And she’s expecting! Lindsay and her husband have been very open about their long and emotional journey towards pregnancy, a story that may hit home with readers out there. They were blessed with the news of twin boys and Lindsay has shared updates of her high risk pregnancy on her blog. Friends and I are so excited to celebrate Lindsay and her expanding family today.
Today’s cut-out sugar cookies are the softest, thickest, and creamiest sugar cookies to ever come out of my oven. This is a bold statement, but they set a new standard for sugar cookies. Here’s why I’m calling them my new favorite:
- The dough is so easy to work with
- Cookies hold their shape beautifully
- Literally the softest sugar cookies
- A little tang, a little sweet
- Almond extract because it’s miraculous in sugar cookies
- Each bite is smooth and creamy
- Nice flat surface for decorating
I took my regular cream cheese sugar cookies, added more cream cheese and a little extra flour, rolled the dough out, crossed my fingers this would actually work, and the rest is cookie history. I actually use this same dough to make raspberry sugar cookies, too.
My #1 Cream Cheese Rule
Use the right cream cheese. Don’t reach for cream cheese spread sold in a tub. You know the stuff you spread on your bagels? Not that. You want the actual blocks/bricks of cream cheese. Cream cheese spread is much thinner and meant for spreading. The 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese are perfect for cooking and baking. I use cream cheese a lot in my kitchen. You’ll need 4 ounces, half of an 8-ounce block.
The sugar cookie dough, made from 8 staple ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, and egg is thick and creamy. You know you’re in for a treat when a cookie recipe starts with a super soft cookie dough like this!
My Roll-Out Trick
This is my tried-and-true trick when it comes to sugar cookies and we’re using the same technique again here. After you make the cookie dough, divide the dough in half. Roll each half out and chill them in the refrigerator. So we’re rolling the cookie dough out BEFORE chilling it, which isn’t typical for most sugar cookie recipes. The dough is so much easier to roll out before it’s chilled.
Why are we chilling it though? So the cookies keep their shape when baked.
And why divide in 2? Because it’s difficult to roll out a huge mass of dough. Dividing into smaller sections makes rolling out more manageable. Got it?
Since this is a very soft cookie dough, make sure you flour your hands, rolling pin, and work surface. Here’s half of the dough rolled out:
You’ll roll out the doughs to 1/4-inch thickness. I like to roll it out directly on a silicone baking mat. Why? Because you have to chill the rolled out dough in the fridge. And you can’t really pick up dough that you rolled out on the counter, right? Nor can you cut into shapes when the dough is this warm. So roll out on a nonstick surface that you can literally pick up, put on a baking sheet, and place in the fridge. So… make dough, divide in 2, roll out, chill. Got it?
After the dough has chilled, let’s cut into shapes. Hearts, preferably. Because heart sugar cookies are so darn cute!! (Here is the heart cookie cutter set I have.) But you can use any shape.
The cookies don’t spread much when they’re baking, so they should stay around 1/4 inch thick. That’s a thick sugar cookie! Be sure not to over-bake these cream cheese cookies as they’ll lose their softness.
So we’ve got a big batch of plain sugar cookies on our hands. What to do next?
Made from 5 ingredients: Nutella, heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and a little salt. Very very simple. Nutella is super sticky and thick so it’s easiest to use a mixer to beat all of these ingredients together.
This Nutella glaze will set on top of the cookies. It won’t become hard or anything, but it will set making the cookies convenient to stack, store, transport, give to your Nutella-loving Valentine, etc. Spread this icing on cupcakes and breads and muffins and donuts and your spoon. There’s no limits when it comes to Nutella glaze. ♥
Extremely soft and thick sugar cookies made with cream cheese and almond extract and topped with creamy Nutella glaze.
- 3 cups + 2 Tablespoons (390g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 ounces (112g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup (100g) Nutella
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream or milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- optional: 1/2 cup (60g) chopped hazelnuts for garnish
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium-high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until mixture is fluffy and combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Dough will be very soft and creamy.
- Generously flour your hands and rolling pin. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or silicone baking mat to about 1/4-inch thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. If it’s sticking to the bottom, run your hand under it to help remove it. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. (I like these heart cookie cutters.) Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes until very lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. I like to decorate the cookies directly on baking sheets so I can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help set the Nutella glaze. If you’d like to do it that way, place the cooled cookies back on baking sheets.
- Make the glaze: In a medium bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the ingredients together on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste. Add another pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Spread on each cooled cookie then decorate with hazelnuts, if desired. Nutella glaze will set at room temperature after 3-4 hours and even quicker in the refrigerator, about 1 hour.
- Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Freezing Instructions: Plain or decorated sugar cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months before rolling it out. Prepare the dough through step 3, divide in half, flatten both halves into a disk as we do with pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, then freeze. To thaw, thaw the disks in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for about 1 hour. Roll out the dough as directed in step 4, then chill rolled out dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes – 1 hour before cutting into shapes and baking.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.