Some Background Nonsense
(it’s solid but skippable)
I was never a huge fan of sugar cookies until I ordered one of those big pink cookies at my local soda shop. I’m hooked, and for a decent stretch of time I picked one up every day. I tried pretty much every sugar cookie available in Cache Valley. The following is my ranking of the sugar cookies I have tried in Cache Valley: 1. Even Steven’s 2. Swigs 3. Chugsz 4. Great Harvest’s (when they actually have them) 5. Maverick (great if you’re in a rush). Finally, the ones at Macey’s bakery counter are a waste of money. None of that matters though because you are a badass who is going to start making them at home.
Before I set out to make my own recipe I tried a few from random blogs. The resulting cookies were usually dry and tasted like all-purpose flour and disappointment. Luckily I’ve watched enough cooking videos I was able to crack it. The secret – cutting the fats into the flour to prevent gluten build up and using lots of ingredients that nobody wants to cook with anymore
Most cookie recipes instruct us to cream the fat and sugar together first, which is great if you want to inject some air into the cookies and your ok to build up some gluten when the flour is added at the end. These sugar cookies are all about being dense and tender; the less gluten the better. The cookies should be so soft that a middle schooler with recently tightened braces should be able to chow down with no prob. We do this by starting with the dry ingredients, then cutting in the fats. This seals the gluten inside the particles of flour and since most of the mixing is already done when the liquid ingredients are added, it only takes a few seconds for the dough to come together.
Shortening is our first unpopular ingredient. Using vegetable shortening reduces the amount of water in the cookies, helping to prevent gluten built up. It also has a higher melting point than butter which lets the cookies bake without spreading out too much. If you don’t want to use shortening because of trans fats don’t worry = ) instead of partially hydrogenating the veggie oils, Crisco has begun fully hydrogenating them. Instead of trans fats, we have artificial fully saturated fats, and it will be years before scientists figure out how bad those are for us.
We need to add some rich flavor to these cookies, but we can’t add any extra moisture. Enter nonfat dry milk powder. I stole this trick from Christina Tosi (she’s a big deal in the baking world) It’s a sneaky way to get more dairy into baked goods without adding any water. Dry milk may be disappointing in your morning cereal but here it gives us some flavor, and as a bonus, it helps gives our cookies a bit more chew.
Giving these cookies a tender chewy texture isn’t a job just one ingredient can handle. So I tagged in corn syrup. Corn syrup holds on to moisture better than granulated sugar, which is nice when trying to avoid dry baked goods. Corn syrup is not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup – news flash: all sugar are less than great for you ;).
I’m pretty sure those soda shops aren’t spending their money on pure Tahitian Vanilla. So I stole another trick from Christina. The last unpopular ingredient is optional but using artificial clear vanilla flavoring, is going to get these cookies to taste like the low brow treat they should be.
Because it’s nearly 2018 and this is how we learn, and I need the attention 😉
What you’re actually here for
Preheat oven to 350℉. Using the whisk attachment in a stand mixer quickly combine the following ingredients.
3¼ cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup nonfat dry milk (you may regret using old stock from your food storage 😉 )
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cream of tartar
Add shortening first, bring the mixer up to full speed until the shortening has integrated fully and the mixture seems dry and sandy. Repeat the process with the room temperature butter. (I often throw caution to the wind and use cold butter in my bakes, but in this case, you really need soft butter.)
½ cup butter flavored shortening
1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
Switch from the whisk to the paddle attachment. In a separate smaller bowl combine the following ingredients. After the liquid ingredients are combined drizzle them into the stand mixer while it is running, and mix briefly.
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
⅓ cup light corn syrup
1 tbs clear vanilla extract
It should only take a few seconds for the dough to form, but make sure there aren’t any pockets of dry mixture. Using standard size cookie scoop or by making 1″ balls portion 12 pieces of dough on to a standard cookie sheet prepared with a piece of greased parchment paper. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dusted with powdered sugar flatten each cookie to about 1cm in thickness. This recipe makes about 24 cookies bake one sheet at a time for about 11 minutes. The cookies shouldn’t brown at all and you’ll probably wonder if they are done…but just go with it.
Combine butter and cream cheese until smooth. Briefly, mix in vanilla and salt. Finally, add powdered sugar and beat until frosting forms. This recipe makes just enough frosting for one batch of cookies so frost cooled cookies judiciously.
3oz cream cheese
½ stick butter
1tsp clear vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 cups powdered sugar (preferably C&H brand)
These cookies are good the day of, but even better after resting a day or two. Store in an airtight container. Please do me a solid and share this post with your friends, and tag @wyatt.photos when you post your cookies on the ‘gram.