Monday, July 06, 2009

Great American Bake Sale Recipe # 2: Sugar Cookies

One of the very first recipes I learned to bake (at 9 yrs. old) was a sugar cookie. In my young little eyes, I found them to be the best cookie to start with. They were simple, non-intimidating, versatile and very easy to work with. You could cut them into any shape and for the most part, the way they went in the oven was the way they would come out of the oven (at 9 yrs. old that's all you care about).

To me, a sugar cookie is one of those quick fixes that make a bad day good and a sugar craving go away. I know that some people can't stand the taste of these delightful creations and that the sound of the word "sugar cookie" makes them cringe, but I am here to speak up for all the sugar cookies in the world. I love sugar cookies and I'm proud of it! I love how they can be easily decorated and the fun shapes that can be created when you have neat cookie cutters. I love the way they smell coming out of the oven and how their nostalgic they are during the holidays. I love...I'm sorry, am I getting side tracked? Anyway, did I confess my love of sugar cookies?

With all of that off my chest, I could not, with good conscience, leave them out of the bake sale, now could I? I knew you would agree with me.

For the most part, they had a huge contribution in the bake sale - if memory serves me correctly, I believe they were 75% gone by the time the sale was over. Not too shabby, huh?

Sugar Cookies adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

If you've had a bad experience with sugar cookies, please give them another chance and try this recipe. If these don't convince you, I won't ever mention it again.

2 cups (14 oz.) sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
14 tbsp. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread 1/2 cup of the sugar in a shallow dish for rolling. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Give the dough a few final stirs with a rubber spatula to make sure it is well combined.

4. Roll 2 tbsp. dough into balls with wet hands, the roll in the sugar to coat. Lay the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 2 in. apart. Flatten the cookies to 3/4 in. thickness with the buttered and sugared bottom of a drinking glass. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the flattened tops.

5. Bake the cookies, one sheet a t a time, until the edges are set and beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 min., rotating each baking sheet halfway through baking.

6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 min., then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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