Sunday, December 16, 2012

Twisted Sugar Cookies

I finished my first semester of med school on Thursday. It was a great semester, but I am so glad that I now have three weeks off to do whatever I want! Of course, Christmas baking is at the top of that list. I've already spent many hours in the kitchen, and plan to log plenty more there before the break is over. Because I have so many things I want to bake, it is difficult to decide how to prioritize and what to bake first. This year I started with these twisted sugar cookies. I had seen the recipe last year and printed it off with the hopes of making them this Christmas. I thought that they were so beautiful and wanted to try them for myself. They were a lot of fun to make, and quite tasty to eat too. Although they didn't turn out exactly like the pictures I was looking at (she's had a lot more practice than me!), they still turned out beautifully, making me happy at the beginning of this Christmas baking season!

The dough for this recipe has yeast and sour cream, both of which are a little different. You just throw it all together, cutting cold butter in, and then chill overnight. The next day you laminate the dough while covering it in flavored sugar, and then cut into strips and twist. As the cookies bake they kind of unfold a little revealing the layers created while rolling and folding. I just love all the different layers of dough you can see. The sugar crystallizes on the bottom of the cookies, turning into a kind of carmel, yummy!

For the first half of the dough I did what the recipe said and used vanilla sugar to roll them out in, but for the second half I decided to mix it up a little and added a little almond extract as well. They are both good but I absolutely love almond flavored things, especially at Christmas, and so the almond flavored cookies were my favorite. What a fun cookie to start out the Christmas baking season with!

Lots of rolling out

Cut them up

Twisted and ready to bake

Delicious sugary bottoms!

So pretty and twisty

Twisted Sugar Cookies
From Cook and Be Merry
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (1 pkg) (NOT Rapid Rise, Pizza Crust or Bread Machine)
  • ¼ cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
For sugary topping
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 1 cookie sheet with foil. Double pan to bake.

In a warm medium bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Proof until frothy, about 10 minutes.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut butter into flour until rice-size with two knives or pastry cutter.

In the medium bowl, mix eggs, sour cream and vanilla into the yeast mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl with the flour. Stir thoroughly with a fork to make a dough.

Divide the dough into 2 patties, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. Place patties side by side, not stacked to assure even cooling. My patties were 18.5 oz each.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the sugar and vanilla until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap so the sugar doesn’t dry out.

On a dry surface, place ½ of the vanilla sugar. Place one patty of dough on the vanilla sugar (leaving the other patty in the refrigerator) and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle. Scoop up all the sugar from around the edges and spread evenly over top of dough.

With the long edge toward you, fold both edges toward the center, making 3 equal layers. Turn one quarter around and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle. Scoop up any extra sugar and smooth onto the dough. Do not discard any of the vanilla sugar. Use it all.

Fold and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle 2 more times. The dough should be about 1/4-inch thick.

Trim the edges slightly with a sharp knife to as perfect a rectangle as possible.

With the knife, cut the dough the long way into eight 1-inch wide strips. Cut each 16 x 1-inch strip into 4 equal pieces, each 4 inches long.

Twist half (16) of the 4 x 1-inch strips 2 times, over-twisting to stretch the dough in the middle. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure the dough twist lies flat on the sheet. You may need to fan out the layers on the ends somewhat to make sure each is touching the sheet. Press down a little to help it adhere.

Double pan. Bake at 375 degrees F, 15 – 20 minutes or until a rich golden brown. With a spatula, remove from sheet immediately before the caramelized sugar hardens and sticks to the foil. Cool on a rack.

Discard foil on cookie sheet and replace with new foil. Repeat with remaining 16 dough strips.

Start over with the second dough ball and remaining half of sugar


  1. Hi Jana ~ Nice work on your cookies. They turned out beautifully. Love your photo of the caramelized bottom. Here's to more baking in 2013!

    Lynne xo

    1. Thanks so much! And thanks for the recipe, it's a good one, they are so beautiful! Mine didn't turn out quite as well as yours, but it looks like you have a lot more experience! Happy baking to you as well!