Sugar cookies from Baking Illustrated

I admit, I had high hopes for these cookies. (Recipe below.) I’ve always been a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated, because they take the time to explain their methodology and why things work as they do. So I expected their “Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies” recipe to be stellar.

It’s not. It’s not bad; don’t get me wrong. They’re just not great. Maybe because I had my oven on a touch too high, or maybe because the melted sugar cooked just a bit too long, but the sugar-coated bottoms of the cookies wound up burning, even though the tops are fine. Also, the cookies are more crumbly than I anticipated. I expected something more smooth than crumbly.

Still, they’re decently tasty, especially with milk. I’m just not sure I’ll make them again, and I doubt they’ll make the Christmas cookie gift list.

For the record: I made these by hand, and I only cooked one baking sheet at a time because I have a small oven. Your mileage may vary.

(Recipe behind the cut.)

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
makes about 24
Bakers Illustrated — p.428

2 cups lower-protein unbleached all-purpose flour (e.g. Pillsbury or Gold Medal)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling dough
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

– Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Preheat to 375 degrees.
– Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
– Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
– Cream butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. (3 minutes on medium speed)
– Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. (About 30 seconds on medium speed)
– Add dry ingredients; beat until just combined. (About 30 seconds on low speed)
– Place 1/2 cup sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl. Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold water. Dip your hands in the water and shake off any excess. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1 1/2 inch ball between moistened palms, roll the ball in the sugar, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
– Using the butter wrappers, butter the bottom of a drinking glass and dip the bottom of the glass in the remaining sugar. Flatting the dough balls with the bottom of the glass until they are about 3/4 inch thick, dipping the glass in the sugar as necessary to prevent sticking (after every 2-3 cookies).
– Baking until cookies are golden brown around the edges and their centers are just set and very lightly colored, 15 to 18 minutes.
– Cool on baking sheets 3 minutes; then transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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