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Sugar Cookie Recipe

October 10th, 2007 by RG in Dessert Recipes, Ask A Chef

How to Make Perfect Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie Recipe

I received an email from Kathy about preparing the “perfect” sugar cookie. She told me she made two batches of sugar cookie dough using the same recipe and one batch turned out perfect while the other “was puffy and lost shape.”

Kathy wanted to know why this happened so I contacted my friend Chef Jennifer Field, a graduate from the Orlando Culinary Academy, for some help since I’m not much of a baker. Jennifer had a bunch of questions that were answered in Kathy’s next email. Here is what she said,

“The batches were made and cooked on different days. The second batch was refrigerated for a couple days (at least). The recipe was the same, however, I may have beat my shortening, sugar and egg mixture longer the second time. Temp the same.”

Kathy’s Definition of the Perfect Sugar Cookie

“My definition of a perfect sugar cookie is one that is light and a little crisp with the buttery icing softening it just slightly. I’m not into a fluffy cakey sugar cookie. I definitely want one that will hold the shape and design of my cutter. I want to make snowflake shaped cookies at Christmas and my cutter has little cut outs you can add for more detail.

This is the recipe I used:

1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cup flour

I’m not sure exactly if my mixing was different either time usually I mix in this order: sugar and fats together till creamy, add eggs till fluffy, add dry ingredients that have been combined beforehand, and end with vanilla.
Bake at 325 degrees in a convection oven.

I’m anxious to hear from you and what your suggestions will be for my success.
Thanks again – Kathy”

Chef Jennifer Field’s Recommendations

With these facts in hand, Chef Jennifer was able to point out why the second batch did not turn out “perfect” plus offer some changes to Kathy’s recipe for future cookies.  Here is what she said,

“What immediately jumps out at me is the refrigeration time for the second batch of cookies.  I see that your leavener was baking soda.  Baking soda in a baked good only has one chemical reaction:  it fizzes and bubbles when it gets wet.This, of course, happened when you first mixed your ingredients together.  Since you baked your first batch immediately, the soda did its job correctly.

As your dough for the second batch chilled in the fridge, the chemical reaction ceased. Your rise was probably uneven because you beat more air into the dough (you said your mixing time was longer the second time) so, even though the soda had fizzled by the time you baked, you still had lots of little air bubbles that were probably not evenly distributed in your dough, causing a wonky rise.

I see that the recipe called for 1 teaspoon each of soda and cream of tartar.  It sounds like an old recipe.  Try substituting double acting baking powder next time.  Double acting powder has two chemical reactions:  one when it gets wet and a second one when it gets hot.  So, even if you let your dough hang out in the fridge and lose the first reaction over time, you’ll still get a fairly even second boost of leavening when you put your dough in the oven.

Since you’re also interested in your cookie holding a fairly detailed shape after baking, I’d also consider using shortening in place of the oil.  Since oil is liquid at room temperature and when heated, cookies will tend to spread a bit.  Shortening, being a solid at room temperature and a fairly slow melter, will yield a cookie with less spread.

I hope this helped!  Good luck with your baking.

Chef Jenni Field
Pastry Sous Chef
The Ravenous Pig

P.S.  Your idea of a perfect sugar cookie made me drool.  Just a little:-)”
Me too! – RG

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from COOKS.COM

2 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. or 1 1/2 sticks butter
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
Sift flour and salt and set aside. Beat butter, sugar and egg at high speed for 3 minutes or until fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Wrap in wax paper and chill 3 hours or until firm enough to roll.

[icing recipe from Sugarcraft, also a great place to find cutters!!]
My Favorite Cookie Icing
The best part of it is that you can stack these cookies but the icing doesn’t get rock hard like royal icing would to suck all the moisture from the cookie. Royal icing ruins cookies. It sucks out all the moisture.

I made some big Gingerbread boys with this icing. They had to have a yellow hard hat with a logo on the tummy. I used frosting sheet to make 200 logos, stuck them on with this icing, spread yellow hard hat with knife, then put it in a bag to make the brim. I also put it in a bag to outline. These cookies (200) went to Port of Trinidad…2 got broken! That isn’t bad at all. They emailed me back that they loved them.

This icing is like that used on petite fours. It will crust so you can stack your cookies. But it won’t get rock hard like royal icing does. I find it easier and more fun to work with too. This icing (as opposed to royal icing) is very tasty!

Firm Cookie Frosting: Try this, its very easy and you’ll get raves!
Fondant Cookie Icing…For icing cookies (and for decorating):
(links go to the products needed)
10 parts Dry candy Fondant *
to
1 part water
Flavoring or this
Food Coloring

You can make it thicker by adding more dry c. fondant. Or thinner by adding more water. Color or flavor as desired. I usually just add a little almond flavoring or vanilla extract. No beating necessary. Just stir until no lumps remain. This can be as thin as color flow and still won’t run off the side of the cake.

I ice the cookies with this. You should have it thin, but not so thin that it readily runs off the  cookie.
For decorations, I put some icing in a dec. bag with a tip #2 for drawing lines and detail. Or you can paint icing on to decorate too, using a medium soft paint-brush.
This icing is like that used on petite fours. It will crust so you can stack your cookies. But it won’t get rock hard like royal icing does. I find it easier and more fun to work with too. This icing (as opposed to royal icing) is very tasty!

* Dry Candy Fondant, available via mail order HERE
Dry candy fondant is simply another sugar. It is not ‘granulated, not brown, but fondant. It will keep like any other sugar.

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[These are probably my all time favorite cookies. The trick to these tasting scrumptious is to use REAL butter and good quality vanilla]

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

ingredients

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Powdered sugar

preparation

Sift flour and salt together. Using electric mixer, cream butter in large bowl until light. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 batches. Mix in nuts. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.Preheat oven to 400°F. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Space 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until just firm to touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool slightly. Roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again. Store in airtight container.

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My little one is still too young to really get excited about Christmas, so I am planning our family traditions now while he is so young in hopes that he will acquire the sense of wonder that I had when I was young. I absolutely loved Christmas preparations, decking the halls and baking so many yummy treats. My Aunt Nancy used to make Christmas cookies. She had gingerbread men, peanut butter blossoms, butter balls(russian tea cakes) and iced sugar cookies with dragees decorating them. My mother always prepared my paternal grandmother’s nut roll recipe. She would make raspberry, apricot, poppy seed and traditional walnut all frosted with yummy vanilla frosting. My mom also had these white feather wreaths she hung on the living room wall, porcelain angels that would hang on the lamps and these strange lantern-like gold garlands that would drape across the windows. We always had to have an artificial tree because my mom was allergic to the real ones. My fondest decoration was the plastic, glittery candy garland that used to hang in the kitchen doorway. Oh and then there were also the little plastic elves that everyone seemed to have. We always opened one gift on Christmas eve then we would go to bed and Santa Claus would come and leave us more presents. We always woke up early to see what Santa brought and then we would go to church. As we got older we would start going to midnight mass. My maternal grandmother was born on Christmas day so she would come over every year for dinner which usually included a ham with all the fixings. My husband’s family really didn’t have any strong traditions, the only thing he remembers are the handmade felt ornaments his aunt use to make. Those and this odd family concoction called hamloaf!? I have the recipe, I just don’t know if that is one tradition I want to encourage! :o) Over the next few months, I hope to share our traditions as well as some of my friend’s and fellow Christmas lovers!(and if I can dig out the old Stamblesky nut roll recipe, I might just share that too!)

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