Monday, December 20, 2010

the best sugar cookies


Ever. Ever. Ever.

Have you stumbled upon the show called America’s Test Kitchen on PBS? Or the magazine Cook’s Illustrated? Oh goodness…you must check them out. They are worth the price (PBS shows are free). And the online membership to access their recipes is so worth it too!

I was recently invited to a cookie swap. Bake 75 of your best holiday cookie and bring them in sets of 5. We then swapped cookies and I came home with 75 delicious cookies baked by other people. Best idea ever around the holidays!

There were several kiddos in the families that had nut allergies so I couldn’t share some of my favorites (I’ll have to share my all time favorite with you next week!). So I started thinking what I could bring.

In comes Cook’s Illustrated. Last month’s issue had Chewy Sugar Cookies. So I made a tester batch. Perfection.

BTW…loved making a tester batch. I was able to work out the kinks AND my family got to enjoy some while I worked on the actual bounty for the party.

Here’s the recipe with my notes:

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies.   Published November 1, 2010 in Cook’s Illustrated.  

The final dough will be slightly softer than most cookie dough. For the best results, handle the dough as briefly and gently as possible when shaping the cookies. Overworking the dough will result in flatter cookies.


2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) 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

1 large egg

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside. (Kristen’s note: I did not use parchment paper, just my non stick cookie sheets. I also used both oven racks as close to middle position as I could get with room to use them both)

step01 Place 1½ cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. (Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. ) Whisk cream cheese pieces in with sugar until finely crumbled.


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 soft homogeneous dough forms.


(Kristen’s note: put away your Kitchen Aid for this recipe…it’s all with the whisk and spatula…and totally worth it!)


Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each (or use #40 portion scoop…I used a overflowing Tablespoon). Using hands, roll dough into balls.


Working in batches, roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 dough balls per sheet. Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter.


Sprinkle tops evenly with 4 teaspoons of sugar remaining in shallow dish (2 teaspoons per tray), discarding any remaining sugar. (Kristen’s note: colored sugar is a festive addition during the holidays. Of course, I didn’t think about that until I was half way through the 75)


Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


(Kristen’s note: I did bake the two trays at the same time. I did only put 6 cookies on each tray so that I could space them…no overlapping of cookies on my watch. I swapped position in the oven at the 7 minute mark. Also, pay close attention because as soon as they are barely browning on the edge, they are done. Even a minute longer means a crispy, rather than chewy cookie.)


Next week I’m going to try their Classic Cut Out cookies with the boys. I’ll let you know how those turn out too.


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