Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg yolk
n a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, sugars and vanilla. Add edd yolk and beat until well blended and fluffy. Redice mixer speed to low. Gradually beat in flour mixture, scraping down side of bowl as necessary, until fully incorporated. Dough will be very soft and sticky. Divide dough in half. Scrape each mound of dough onto a separate sheet of plastic wrap. With lightly floured hands, pat dough out to a 1/2 inch thick disk. Wrapt tightly and refrigerate until dough is well-chilled and firm enough to roll, at least 1 hour.
Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with one disk of dough at a time, remove dough from refrigerator to soften slightly. Dampen work surface with a moist kitch cloth and place a sheet of plastic wrap on top (this will prevent the plastic wrap from slipping while rolling dough). Lightly flour sheet of plastic wrap. Unwrap dough and place in center of prepared plastic wrap. Place another sheet of lightly floured plastic wrap, flour-side down, on top of dough. Roll to a thickness of 1/4 inch or just over. Transfer folled dough, with wrapt to a large baking sheet and place in freezer until very firm, about 10 minutes. Well-chilled dough will yeild cookie shapes with well-defined edges.
Working with one piece of rolled dough at a time, remove dough from freezer. Gently lift top sheet of plastic wrap. With lightly floured cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes. Very carefully, lift sections of plastic wrap and invert to release eachh cutout. Place cutouts at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate unbaked cookies until firm, about 8 minutes. ( Additional chilling time will prevent cookies from spreading and deep the integrity of their shapes during baking).. With a pastry brush, dust excess flour off dough scraps. Gently knead dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill before rolling and cutting more shapes.
Bakek cookies until the edges are golden brown, about 14 minutes depending on their size and thickness. Halfway through baking time, to ensure even browning, rotate baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 3-5 minutes. Using a metal cookie spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies are ready to decorate when completely cooled.
VARIATION: For Lemon-Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies; add 1-1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest to creamed butter and sugar mixture.