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The Best Sugar Cookie


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36 replies to this topic

#1 bluechefk

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 11:14 AM

looking for a sugar cookie recipe that will result in a crunchy cookie, dry & a little airy all the way through. i'm picturing something that i can scoop & roll in sparkling sugar, sort of like a gingersnap or snickerdoodle. have tried a number of recipes so far, but none are quite right - some are too soft & chewy in the center, some spread too much. i've tried substituting bakers ammonia for the baking powder, and although this has helped somewhat, i'm still not satisfied.

any suggestions?


kerry

#2 Steven Blaski

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 05:22 PM

looking for a sugar cookie recipe that will result in a crunchy cookie, dry & a little airy all the way through. i'm picturing something that i can scoop & roll in sparkling sugar, sort of like a gingersnap or snickerdoodle. have tried a number of recipes so far, but none are quite right - some are too soft & chewy in the center, some spread too much. i've tried substituting bakers ammonia for the baking powder, and although this has helped somewhat, i'm still not satisfied.

any suggestions?


kerry

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Kerry, here's a couple of crisp sugar cookie recipes from John Thorne, hosted on the King Arthur website:
Crisp Sugar Cookies
Caramelized Sugar Cookies.

I haven't tried these, but I have made other recipes by Thorne that I've enjoyed.

Edited by Steven Blaski, 03 November 2005 - 05:24 PM.


#3 claire797

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 06:37 AM

Kerry, thanks for posting this. I've been following the thread since yesterday. When I first started reading, I was going to suggest the Baker's Ammonia, but then saw that wasn't what you wanted.

Steven, thanks for the recipes! The KA Caramelized Sugar Cookies sound very different. I'm going to try them today :).

#4 bluechefk

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 08:08 AM

thanks for the recipes, steve - they sound really good! spent yesterday experimenting a little, and this is what i ended up with: took my standard snickerdoodle recipe, subbed shortening for half of the butter, and used cream of tartar (called for in the original recipe) and bakers ammonia (subbed for baking powder). the results were the closest i've come so far to the cookie i'm looking for - a little bit of height with a crackly top, a little airy & cruncy. i'd still like them to be a little dryer all the way through - these were still a little cakey in the center. :hmmm:

#5 Steven Blaski

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 07:29 PM

Kerry, thanks for posting this.  I've been following the thread since yesterday.  When I first started reading, I was going to suggest the Baker's Ammonia, but then saw that wasn't what you wanted.

Steven, thanks for the recipes!  The KA Caramelized Sugar Cookies sound very different.  I'm going to try them today :).

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claire797 -- Let us know how they turn out -- I was intrigued by them too.

Edited by Steven Blaski, 04 November 2005 - 07:49 PM.


#6 Steven Blaski

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 07:48 PM

thanks for the recipes, steve - they sound really good!  spent yesterday experimenting a little, and this is what i ended up with:  took my standard snickerdoodle recipe, subbed shortening for half of the butter, and used cream of tartar (called for in the original recipe) and bakers ammonia (subbed for baking powder).   the results were the closest i've come so far to the cookie i'm looking for - a little bit of height with a crackly top, a little airy & cruncy. i'd still like them to be a little dryer all the way through - these were still a little cakey in the center.  :hmmm:

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Kerry, you're probaby not using brown sugar, but if you are that would contribute to a less crunchy cookie.

I just looked into my copy of The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion (eGullet link) and they have three sugar cookie recipes for three different textures-- chewy, crunchy and crisp. The crunchy version, the headnotes explain, are less sweet than most cookies, and the reduced sugar seems to make them crunchier.

Here are the ingredients for the crunchy version:

Yield: 26 cookies

1/4 cup vegetable shortening
4 TB unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 milk (not nonfat)
1 tsp white or cider vinegar
1 TB vanilla extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups (8.5 ounces) unbleached AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Heaping 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325.
Cream fats and sugar.
Add milk, vinegar and vanilla to creamed mixture, beating till combined (it's OK if it looks curdled).
Add in dry ingredients.
Drop by TBs onto 2 parchment-lined sheets. Flatten balls to 1/4-inch thickness with bottom of drinking glass.
Bake for 20 minutes till they're a light gold and just beginning to brown at the edges.
Transfer to a rack, where they'll crisp as they cool.

Edited by Steven Blaski, 04 November 2005 - 07:54 PM.


#7 claire797

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 07:28 AM

I made the KA Caramelized Sugar Cookies yesterday and they were very interesting. Below is a visual. They reminded me more of crackers than cookies, actually. Very sweet crackers!

Steve, thanks again for pointing out the cookie recipes in the KA book. I have that book, but tend to skip over sugar cookies. Now I'm on a sugar cookie kick :) and am having fun trying out all the different variations.

Posted Image

#8 Steven Blaski

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 05:55 PM

Thanks for posting the pic -- the cookies look delicious! A cookie made with yeast is something I've never baked -- so I'll give it a go, too.

Oh, and just to give credit where it's due -- the cookies are indeed on the KA site, but the original recipe is John Thorne's, from his newsletter, Simple Cooking.

#9 claire797

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 10:06 AM

I’ve been on a mission to find the ultimate sugar cookie, and with the holidays approaching, Wendy mentioned it might be nice to have a sugar cookie thread. Do you have a recipe you consider the ultimate? What’s your idea of the best sugar cookie.

It’s tricky because cut-out cookies and old fashioned drop sugar cookies are often lumped into the same category. I think they are very different, so my goal is to find both the ultimate cut out and the ultimate old fashioned, big and crunchy sugar cookie.

To start off with, I’m linking to an excellent sugar cookie I made a few weeks ago. It’s flavored with lemon and nutmeg and this version has no vanilla extract. These are crunchy but tender and have a nice old fashioned flavor. At this point, they are probably my favorite.

The second link is to a cut-out cookie recipe I like. This one seems to be the one I revert to and I’m wondering it I can get any better.

As I bake more cookies, I'll post pictures. for now, it might me nice to just start collecting our favorites and say why we like them so much.

#10 chefcyn

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 02:29 PM

looking for a sugar cookie recipe that will result in a crunchy cookie, dry & a little airy all the way through. i'm picturing something that i can scoop & roll in sparkling sugar, sort of like a gingersnap or snickerdoodle. have tried a number of recipes so far, but none are quite right - some are too soft & chewy in the center, some spread too much. i've tried substituting bakers ammonia for the baking powder, and although this has helped somewhat, i'm still not satisfied.

any suggestions?


kerry

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Here are two recipes, both of which produce the lightest airiest sugar cookies I have had. I make them often as they are so easy to put together--I use a cookie-sized ice cream scoop to portion them out. Makes balls about the size of a walnut. You can also vary them by using dry jell-o mix for the sugar when pressing them down., or use colored sugar or sugar crystals--grease the bottom of the glass well to pick up the larger sugar bits. They are a tad chewy fresh out of the oven, but once they have a little time to cool completely and evaporate any moisture, they crisp right up.
They aren't so delicate that they can't be handled either, they pack and ship well--put two together bottoms touching and wrap loosely with plastic wrap, use thin foam packing material etweel layers of the pairs and pad the walls of the box well so they don't get crushed..

Oil Sugar Cookies

1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 c a.p.flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
2/3 c light vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 c sugar

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients and beat until thick. Mix in the dry mixture, blending well, and scoop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass in oil and wipe off excess--you want just enough to stick sugar to it. Dip the bottom in sugar and press gently onto each cookie, dipping in sugar each time. The oil in the cookie will continue the stickiness of the glass.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 min, or delicately colored on the bottom. Slide the parchment off the pan onto a rack to cool the cookies on the paper.
Slightly longer baking will make them even crispier and lighter. If you overbake them to brown color, they are still good, but have a more caramelized sugar taste.

-OR-

Oil Sugar Drop Cookies

2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 c sugar
3/4 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Same directions as above.

Edited by chefcyn, 07 November 2005 - 02:32 PM.

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#11 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 03:55 PM

My all time favorite sugar cookie recipe comes from Carol Walters book 'Great Cookies, secrets to sensational sweets'. Published by Clarkson Potter in 2003. The cover states winner of the james beard award........but it doesn't specify if it's for this book or another book Carole did.

The ingredients are:

3 c. ap flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. butter
1 1/4 c. superfine sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. milk

Mix together like any cookie recipe. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sparkling white sugar. I bake them at 350F, the recipes suggests 375F.

#12 claire797

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 06:51 AM

Wow! Lots of great recipes :)

I'm going to try the Carol Walter's recipe Wendy posted and the KA cookies posted by Steven. I'll post some pictures.

#13 claire797

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 11:04 AM

I’ve eaten my weight in sugar cookies this morning, but it was for a good cause ;).

Here are a few pictures. I apologize for them not being so good – My camera is old and dodgy.

Posted Image

First off, the Carol Walter cookie recipe posted by Wendy was very good. It was tender, crispy around the edges and the dough was easy to work with. In fact, I was able to cut a flower shape, which was eaten before I could photograph it. I flavored it with vanilla paste. I’d call it an all-around good cookie. It did have a slight taste of egg yolk, but in a pleasant sort of way.


The King Arthur (crunchy sugar) cookie which Steven posted above was excellent. It was crunchy and light all the way through. I left out the vanilla and flavored it with nutmeg and grated lemon zest, a combo I’m starting like in more and more in my advancing age.

Posted Image

Another cookie I made was a cream based cookie. It tasted almost like Carol Walters, but rose more in a way I didn’t appreciate. I was hoping the cookies would be more cut-outs, but they weren’t. The picture wasn't very exciting (unlike these others) so I'm leaving it out.


Finally, I made an Amish recipewhich is similar to Rebecca “Pastry Queen” Rather’s. There are plenty of variations on this one, but the key characteristics are anoil and fat. These came out of the oven higher and more rounded than the King Arthur crunchy ones, but they crisped up into a fat, rounded and crispy cookie. I liked them very, very much.


Posted Image

Now the question is, how do I get rid of all these cookies? :huh:

#14 annambe

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 11:13 AM

I love this recipe for Sugar Cookies, it's from a Norwegian book called Småkaker (Cookies). It makes a lovely, crunchy cookie. I've modified the recipe slightly.

200 g flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
225 g sugar
1 egg
flavoring (lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, almond)

Mix butter and sugar. Add egg and flavoring. (I like vanilla, about ½ ts.) Add dry ingredients. Roll dough into a cylinder and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate at least an hour. Cut into slices, about four mm thick. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 12-15 min.

The refrigerated dough will keep for several days or can be frozen. (I usually slice it before I freeze it and bake the cookies straight from the freezer.)

Anna

#15 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 08:57 PM

I think looking at your photos, that your ovens a touch too hot. Your edges are browning too quickly for your center.

#16 claire797

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 10:26 PM

I think looking at your photos, that your ovens a touch too hot. Your edges are browning too quickly for your center.

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I think you are right. I've noticed my oven cooks things a bit quicker than most recipes call for. I'm going to get an oven thermometer just to be safe.

#17 MarcyG

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 06:01 PM

I have tried the sugar cookie made with cream and it is my favorite sugar cookie (I have tried dozens). I agree with claire, though, it isn't a good cut out. I tried them that way once. It is best to form them into balls and flatten slightly before baking. This produces a big thick dense yet soft/tender cookie. not cake-like at all. and not at all crisp. just melt in your mouth delicious. The texture goes out the window if the cookies are overbaked though. They need to be pulled from the oven when they are just barely showing hints of browning on the edges. the cookies are also best at least several hours after storage (in other words, not as good right after they are baked).

#18 claire797

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 06:46 AM

I have tried the sugar cookie made with cream and it is my favorite sugar cookie (I have tried dozens).  I agree with claire, though, it isn't a good cut out.  I tried them that way once. 

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I'll have to try the baking the cream cookies again soon. It seems as if my oven is running hot these days and things are cooking a little too fast. The cookies didn't taste burnt, but they could have been over-cooked. Based on how the edges looked, they probably were. Another thing is, I was expecting (don't quite know why) a firm, cut-out, textured cookie. So I'll give them another try.

#19 claire797

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 01:57 PM

Today I made another great sugar cookie from King Arthur -- Vanilla Dream Cookies. This recipe does not have any eggs. The cookies are crunchy and almost airy, thanks to the Baker's Ammonia. Right now, I think these are my favorite.

Posted Image

Vanilla Dream Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baker’s ammonia

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Cream together butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat in flour and baker’s ammonia. Batter will be dry and crumbly, but continue beating and it will come together. Shape into gumball size (3/4 oz) balls. Roll tops in coarse sugar. Press down with glass. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Makes about 32 cookies

Edited by claire797, 10 November 2005 - 01:59 PM.


#20 MarcyG

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 04:36 PM

oh yes. the vanilla dreams are absolutely a favorite cookie of mine. I never really considered them a sugar cookie because they are truly a step above. there is just something extra special about them!

the Princess Meltaways (also from King Arthur and also having baker's ammonia) might be even better. but they are also even less of a sugar cookie since they contain a bit of coconut.

Edited by MarcyG, 10 November 2005 - 04:40 PM.


#21 claire797

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 07:15 AM

I think I've found the perfect cut-out cookie! These are from King Arthur and they do call for baker's ammonia. If you're interested in sugar cookies, baker's ammonia is worthing having around.

The dough was easy to work with, though I did find it necessary to keep it cold.
I liked these best cooked for 12 minutes, which was the crispest level and which made them crisp all the way through. They were also good baked tender (9 minutes) which resulted in a tender cookie with very crisp edges.


Posted Image

Ka Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs With BA (adapted from KA's book)

1 cup unsalted butter (8 oz)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar (8 oz)
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla paste, or whatever flavoring you want
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baker’s ammonia (optional)
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
3 1/2 cups (14 ¾ ounce) all purpose flour

Cream butter, sugar, and syrup. Beat in flavorings and salt. Dissolve baker’s ammonia in egg/water mixture and stir into batter. Stir in flour. Chill dough. Roll 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick and cut. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 8-12 minutes (depending on size of cookie).

Makes about 4 dozen 2 inch cookies

#22 meredithla

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:35 PM

I am in search of a sugar cookie recipe that will hold its shape and sharp edges when using cookie cutters. Every recipe I try puffs up and rounds out. Even when I chill the shapes on the cookie sheet before baking they still don't retain their definition or flat tops. Aaargh! How can I get cookies that look like this?

http://www.rollingpi...com/Cookies.htm

#23 Tweety69bird

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:52 PM

I think the icing on the cookie you linked to helps to make it look like it has sharper edges. Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe is a nice one.
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#24 K8memphis

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:52 PM

There's a recipe used by my many of my pro cookie baking friends now in recipegullet called, No Fail Cut Out Sugar Cookies. It's popularly posted on several of the boards I traverse. It is not my recipe I'm just sharing it with you.

#25 Pam R

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 05:00 PM

I think the icing on the cookie you linked to helps to make it look like it has sharper edges. Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe is a nice one.

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I would also suggest Martha Stewarts recipe - the problem is that I can't find the one that I like on her website. She had an all cookie magazine out a few years ago - if you can find the recipe from it that calls for 5 cups of flour and a pound of butter, that's the one I like. If you can't, I'd give one of the other ones on her site a shot.

#26 JeanneCake

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 06:00 PM

Try the No Fail recipe without the baking powder, and use some flour when you roll out the well-chilled dough. I use a similar recipe (it has a little milk in it) from Toba Garrett and once I stopped adding the baking powder, I had no trouble with the slight puff that can occur. I use parchment on the sheet pans so I don't have to wash them as frequently and there's no sticking.

#27 meredithla

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 06:29 PM

I think the icing on the cookie you linked to helps to make it look like it has sharper edges. Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe is a nice one.

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I would also suggest Martha Stewarts recipe - the problem is that I can't find the one that I like on her website. She had an all cookie magazine out a few years ago - if you can find the recipe from it that calls for 5 cups of flour and a pound of butter, that's the one I like. If you can't, I'd give one of the other ones on her site a shot.

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I think I have that issue. I'll check it out, thanks!

#28 meredithla

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 06:30 PM

Try the No Fail recipe without the baking powder, and use some flour when you roll out the well-chilled dough.  I use a similar recipe (it has a little milk in it) from Toba Garrett and once I stopped adding the baking powder, I had no trouble with the slight puff that can occur.  I use parchment on the sheet pans so I don't  have to wash them as frequently and there's no sticking.

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I think I'll try this one K8, without the baking powder as Jeanne suggests. Thanks everyone and I'll report back!

#29 sugar plum

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 07:33 PM

Every year I use the Martha Stewart recipe. It never fails me. It's from her 2001 Holiday Cookies issue. The one on her Everyday Food website is basically the same as the one in her magazine except it's halved:

http://www.marthaste...&catid=cat17924

#30 ninetofive

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 07:46 PM

I've had good luck with the sugar cookie recipe from Cook's Illustrated 2005 holiday baking issue. They don't spread and they taste good!
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