You have the perfect sugar cookie recipe. You've made the cookie dough and you've tried to cut out the cookies, but it just doesn't quite work. They stick, they tear, they lose their shape. No more! Here are some tips that will have you making sugar cookies that look like a pro made them.
The first step to the perfect cut out cookie is to make the dough and then refrigerate it preferably overnight. At the very least, the dough has to be chilled for a couple of hours. You know the dough is just right to work with when you really have to "mash" it to flatten it out. You absolutely cannot cut out cookies when the dough is freshly made - don't even try it.
If you are in a mad rush and have to have some cookies pronto, you can take a cookie sheet, line it with parchment paper, put a blob of dough on it, cover it with another sheet of parchment and then roll it out to 1/4 inch thick. Then take the cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. Continue to do this with several cookie sheets and you should have enough dough to work with shortly.
Now, if you aren't in a mad rush, get your dough good and cold. When you are ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 400. Make sure your oven heats up for at least 30 minutes - not just until the oven reads 400 degrees. The reason being is that your oven may not be heated to 400 in the center of the oven and will cause your cookies to bake unevenly.
Take out of the refrigerator only the amount of dough that you are going to work with at one time. Leave the rest of the dough in the refrigerator so it doesn't get warm or you will be right back where you started.
"Flour" your work surface with confectioners sugar. Yes, you can use regular flour, but the sugar adds an extra sweetness that tastes great. Also rub your rolling pin with confectioners sugar. Roll your dough to approximately 1/4" thick. If you are going to be making cookie bouquets, they need to be 1/2" thick.
Dip your cookie cutter in confectioners sugar and place it on your dough and press down to cut it out. Before you lift the cookie cutter, give it a little jiggle, wiggleing the cookie cutter back and forth. Do this until you can't get anymore cookies out of the dough that you have rolled out. Begin picking up the dough that surrounds the cut outs. Mash the dough back into a ball and put it back in the refrigerator with the other dough that is chilling.
Use a spatula that is thin, preferably a metal spatula not a rubber spatula to lift your cookies onto the cookie sheet. Rubber spatulas tend to be thicker on the end and will mash and distort your cookie. Using a thin-edged metal spatula place your cookies on the cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper about 1" apart. If you have chosen the proper sugar cookie recipe, they shouldn't puff up or spread.
Bake your cookies for 7 1/2 minutes at 400 degrees or just until the edges are golden brown. Remove the cookie sheet and let your cookies cool for just a minuet. Taking your metal spatula again, ligtly loosen the cookies from the parchment paper without moving them. Let the cool on the cookies sheet until they are ready for you to decorate.