Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chewy Sugar Cookies

I have made a lot of sugar cookies over the years.  Usually I stick with the rolled and decorated cookies.  They are a childhood favorite and a holiday tradition in my family.  I have been using the same recipe to make decorated sugar cookies since my mom taught me how to measure sugar as a young whippersnapper.  In the last few months I have branched out by making chocolate sugar cookies and dark chocolate sugar cookies with cocoa butter frosting.  But I have never made sugar cookies like these.  

I came across this recipe for chewy sugar cookies in a Cook's Illustrated magazine and was immediately interested.  Regular sugar cookies are soft and fluffy.  And while they are always delicious, I was intrigued by the idea of a sugar cookie that was chewy.  Plus, the pictures of the crackly topped cookies were just calling my name.  I had to make them!

These cookies are a little unconventional, but I promise they are great.  One of the differences between these and standard sugar cookies is that they have a smidgen of cream cheese to balance out the buttery flavor.  And speaking of buttery flavor, you might notice that these cookies have a combination of butter and margarine.  I know it seems a little weird to include both, but that it part of what makes these cookies chewy and awesome.  I won't go into all the details, but butter is primarily saturated fat and margarine is primarily unsaturated fat, and the combination of the two gives these cookies their chewy texture.  If you want to know more about it, check out the Cook's Illustrated article!

These cookies are really easy to make, and because they aren't frosted or iced, they are a lot faster than regular sugar cookies.  And they are delicious!  As in, can't have just one delicious.

After rolling most of my cookies in regular granulated sugar I remembered that I had a stash of colored sugar.  Since these cookies weren't going to be decorated, I thought it would be fun to roll them in the colored sugar to give them a little flair.  Because even these cookies just want to have fun!
The colored sugar worked out great and would be a fun option if you are making cookies for a party and want some color to go with your theme but don't want to take the time to roll, cut, and decorate a bunch of sugar cookies.  Or if you just want a little color in your life.  Color is good!
When I took my first batch of cookies out of the oven they were a bit puffy.  I was afraid I had failed to follow basic instructions to make chewy cookies.  I was disheartened.  I had actually tried to follow instructions for the most part this time!  But I was pleased to find that when the cookies cooled, they flattened out.  And they were in fact chewy.  Success is mine!  Well, success was Cook's Illustrated's.  I just copied.

So if you are a sugar cookie fan (and who isn't?), do yourself a favor and try this chewy version of sugar cookies.  They are easy, tasty, and a nice change of pace from rolled sugar cookies.  You won't be disappointed! 

Chewy Sugar Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 oz reduced fat cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup margarine, melted and still warm
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl.  Set aside.
Place 1 1/2 cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl.  Add warm butter and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later).  Whisk in melted margarine until incorporated.  Add egg and vanilla.  Continue to whisk until smooth.  Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft homogenous dough forms.
Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each.  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 any sugar remaining in dish.
Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11-13 minutes, rotating tray after 7 minutes.  Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated, Nov/Dec 2011

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