Friday, October 8, 2010

Best Sugar Cookies INTHEWORLD!

These are the best sugar cookies in the world, with a big bowl of cream cheese frosting. IMG_7425

The kidlets like them with sprinkles.

IMG_7430

Or you can take the more classical approach.

IMG_7426

 

These cookies are soft. They melt in your mouth. They’re delicious. I’m embarrassed to say it, but they taste just like the Lofthouse cookies that you can find in nearly any Pacific Northwest grocery store bakery. (Except, of course, that they aren’t full of preservatives and can’t be kept at room temperature for up to three weeks before they start to suffer.) That, to me, is the highest compliment I can give a sugar cookie. I adore Lofthouse cookies.

When I was in high school, one of my youth leaders at church made incredible cookies. They were so good, in fact, they could even lure my usually shy mother away from her home, and caring for my three younger siblings, and into various church functions.

 

As one particular function was approaching (Young Women in Excellence), this youth leader and I were given charge of organizing an edible favor for the other young women, and their parents. Since Karen, the leader, made such delicious cookies, my mother suggested (begged?) that I suggest those as favors. And that I ought to help with the prep. And take notes.

 

With Karen’s permission, I did take notes. Our baking day still stands out vividly in my mind. It was during our Christmas break, and we had quite a snowstorm. At 11 am, there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and a good six inches of slush in the roads. (If you know Seattle, you know that is odd.)  I carefully picked my way through the slippery slush, walking the four blocks to Karen’s house. I can still remember how impressed I was with her efficient kitchen. She had a pantry in the hall, just outside of the kitchen, with pre-cut sheets of parchment paper. It blew my mind, at the time, seeing a kitchen that was so specialized for one branch of the culinary arts. In fact, it might have been her that first gave me the notion that every kitchen should have  a cookie jar, and every week should find the cookie jar replenished.

 

I recently threw a baby shower for a friend at church, and made the cookies for the first time in nearly 15 years. I had never attempted to make them myself. Even though I had the recipe, I never found a reason to use it. These are not cookie-jar cookies, and most parties around here call for cupcakes, not decorated cookies.

 

My first attempt (a double batch) was tasty, but my technique was off. Obviously, my note-taking skills were a little off. I didn’t watch the order of the ingredients, or the mixing going on between adding ingredients to the bowl!

 

I tried again, another double batch, and made nearly perfect cookies. (The original cookies included almond flavoring, instead of vanilla. If I can get my hands on some good quality almond flavor, then I’ll be in business!)

 

One more note – most sugar cookie doughs are refrigerated before they can be rolled or cut. This dough does not need to be refrigerated. This is a major plus, since these cookies can go from cupboard to oven in about 15 minutes. They can be frosted as soon as the cookies are cool.

Best Sugar Cookies in the World

Adapted from Karen Palmer’s recipe

If rolled out 1/4” thick, this makes 14 large cookies. The recipe can be doubled, or tripled.

 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Crisco

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups flour, divided

 

Preheat the oven to 400 and prep two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

 

Cream together:

3/4 cup Crisco

1 cup white sugar

 

With the mixer on medium low, add:

2 eggs, one at a time

1 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

 

When everything is uniformly mixed in, add :

two cups of flour 

Mix just until flour is incorporated evenly.

 

Place a cup with 1/2 cup flour in it next to your workspace, and then sprinkle your workspace liberally. Turn out the dough and carefully roll it out. You want it thick, 1/4-1/2 inch.  Cut out your cookies and carefully remove to a prepared baking sheet. (I used a flat metal spatula for this, and cut out my cookies with a 3” biscuit cutter.)

 

Bake for 8-9 minutes, but check them often through the glass after 6. As soon as the bottom edges begin to turn golden, you want to take the cookies out of the oven.

 

While the cookies are baking, gently re-form and re-roll the remaining dough. Make sure you sprinkle your workspace with flour again. Cut out cookies and repeat above process. On your second cookie sheet. (It is important that you use at least two cookie sheets, since the sheets need to be COOL when the cookies are placed on them.)

 

(The original recipe indicates that dough should ONLY be rolled out twice. I rolled mine out three or four times. The third time was OK. The fourth time, and the cookie I made from patting together the resulting scraps, were perfect warm out of the oven. They didn’t make it further than that, but I imagine they’d be a bit tougher.)

 

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for one minute, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Icing: (makes enough to ice 4 dozen cookies)

In an electric mixer, combine:

6 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup corn syrup

3 T. butter, softened

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Beat until smooth, and add dye as desired.

 

This makes a thick icing, suitable for spreading with a spatula but perhaps not still enough for intricate piping. It stays quite soft, and so is not really appropriate for individually wrapped cookies, and the cookies should NOT be stacked without waxed paper between them.

5 comments:

  1. You know that she still lived locally and you can call her for any notes you messed up from way back when.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome! I hate refrigerating cookie dough.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my. You had me at Lofthouse. And then the photos. Ooooohhhh. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Would these work for cut out sugar cookies or do you think the shapes would not hold?

    ReplyDelete