The famous, and at times infamous (for the waistline) Fixmer sugar cookies are a constant presence at our family events. I like to think that they were passed down from generations long ago, but I think that might be a little dramatic. All I know is that I copied this recipe from a VERY folded and stained paper with faded blue writing.
It finally feels like fall for real here in State College, and Halloween is at the front of my mind. My mom had the opportunity to visit me this weekend, so we had to make some cookies in honor of the autumn season!
My mom and I are truly best friends, and we love spending time together—especially in the kitchen. I don’t think I talked her up enough in the inspirations section. She always inspires me to think about unusual combinations in baking and cooking. She is also the one who started my love affair with cookie dough—specifically the chocolate chip variety. She constantly sends me new recipes and ideas for the blog, but I think she needed to make a debut on the site with the classic sugar cookie cutouts passed down on her side of the family.
These cookies will probably be the easiest thing you will make. Like ever. They are textbook delicious with minimal work.
This recipe uses very few ingredients, but you’ll notice that the only sweet component is powdered sugar. I personally make no recipes with powdered sugar except royal frosting (also used here).
I got to thinking, what exactly makes powdered sugar different from granulated sugar, and why is it used in this particular cookie recipe?
Powdered sugar (aka icing sugar and confectioner’s sugar) is made up of very finely ground granulated sugar (usually ten times ground) and cornstarch to prevent caking and clumping. It does a few things differently than regular sugar.
First, because powdered sugar is so small, it dissolves really well. In this case, there is not a lot of liquid in the recipe, but the powdered sugar combines completely in the butter (which is 20% water) very quickly where granulated sugar is not as capable.
Sugar also facilitates the incorporation of air into the dough. The larger the grain of sugar, the less attracted it will be to ingredients in the dough, and the more attracted it will be to air incorporating it into the dough during creaming of the butter and sugar. Powdered sugar, being so small, doesn’t incorporate very much air making it a denser cookie.
Powdered sugar’s second component is cornstarch. I have mentioned starches and their power in the past, but in this case, the cornstarch’s main purpose is to thicken overall texture of the cookie. The starch absorbs some water from the dough, and once it reaches about 200⁰F, the starch swells and thickens the cookie. This also contributes to the dense nature of the cutout cookies.
Whether you really understand why powdered sugar is used these cookies or not, they are downright delicious! No matter what way the cookie crumbles, enjoy the Fixmer cutouts while they last.
Famous Fixmer Sugar Cookies
Not changed one bit from the classics : )
2 ¼ cups flour (plus more for rolling out)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons beaten egg
(adapt based on preference of frosting amount for cookies)
1 ½ tablespoons meringue powder
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons water
1. Cream butter and sugar until well combined, and slightly fluffy. Add vanilla, beaten egg and salt. Beat until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add salt to the mix. Stir to combine.
2. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time to the dough until combined. If your dough does not look thick enough to roll out after chilling, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep in mind that a bit of extra flour will be added to the dough during the roll out process.
3. Chill the dough, well wrapped, in the fridge for at least an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 400⁰F. Roll the dough out onto a floured countertop following chilling to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Use whatever cookie cutters you want to cut your dough into shape! I don’t have any in my ill-equipped kitchen (maybe a Christmas present? Mom?…), so we used a drinking glass.
5. Bake cookies for 5-7 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
6. Stir the frosting ingredients together with any food colors you desire, and decorate your little heart out!