I've never been a fan of sugar cookies. First of all they are crisp, and I like chewy cookies. Secondly, they lack, well, complexity. Still, this recipe from Cooks Illustrated caught my eye. I would link you directly to the recipe except Cooks is one of those websites that requires you to subscribe. It costs about $35 a year, and I think it's worth it--but not for one recipe.
I like this recipe because it is easy to prepare. You don't even need a mixer. It also uses some oil which is healthier than all butter so you can feel virtuous when feeding them to your kids. Finally, these cookies are extremely addictive, even with my healthy modifications (substituting wheat flour for some of the white and adding omega 3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil). For complexity, you could roll them in cinnamon sugar or cardamom sugar instead of plain sugar.
Chewy Sugar Cookies
(makes about 24)
From Cooks Illustrated
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil (you can use a combination of flaxseed and canola oil)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whisk flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
Place 1½ cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until a soft homogeneous dough forms.
Using your hands, roll the dough into balls by rounded tablespoonfuls. Place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll each ball in sugar to coat. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, 12 cookies to a sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before storing. (I usually freeze half of the cookies in a ziplock bag, so that we can eat "fresh" cookies at another time.)