Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ginormous Soft Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are weird.  I mean, they themselves aren't weird, but their appeal is somewhat mysterious.  No chocolate, nothing gooey, no marshmallows, no fluffy egg whites... no good?  Opposite!  Super good! I think it's their simplicity that makes them so appealing-- sweet, but not too sweet, soft and somewhat dense, they're a cookie's cookie (like a man's man, but not... you know what I mean).

My favorite kind of sugar cookies are the soft kind,  but alas  I've always been in somewhat of a conundrum because I don't like to use shortening in my baking (hydrogenated oils.. yuck).  I'm definitely a butter girl, but you already knew that, didn't you?  But you can't get that soft delicious texture with butter, so pretty much you're stuck with crunchy cookies or cookies filled with junk.   Until now.  While perusing the baking aisle in Whole Foods last night, I discovered Spectrum Organic Shortening which contains only 100% unhydrogenated palm oil.  Jackpot!

With my newfound (and hopefully somewhat more virtuous) ingredient, I mixed up the sugar cookies and they came out deliciously.  This recipe makes a huge amount of ginormous sugar cookies, and being that it's just me and my sweetheart in the house, I thought it wise to bake up only 8 cookies and freeze the rest of the dough for later (lest we consume all of them in one night and find ourselves relegated strictly to elastic waistband pants).  I don't even know if that's a legit baking thing to do-- freezing the cookie dough.    It's times like these, well really anytime I bake, that I wish I had some more (any) formal training, or a baking 'mentor', or something.  Anyhow, I broke the dough out into 4 equal chunks, wrapped three of them individually in parchment paper first, then in plastic wrap, tossed them in the freezer and hoped for the best. I figure next time we're wanting sugar cookies, I'll just pull one of the packages out and let it thaw for an hour or so before baking.  We'll see how that goes.

The ones I baked today turned out great-- Sweetheart says they taste "like professional bakery cookies but better".  I think it's the love... oh, and the lack of yucky hydrogenated oils.


Adapted from this recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 375 and cover cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl combine the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In another medium bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), cream together sugars and shortening using an electric mixer at low speed for about 30 seconds
  4. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing for 3 more minutes
  5. Slowly add the vanilla and beaten egg while continuing to mix
  6. Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredient, mixing on slow speed just until blended, taking care not to overmix. 
  7. Scoop dough out with an ice cream scoop (this is what makes them ginormous) and roll in sugar
  8. Place dough on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand
    1. Funny story.  While making this recipe, in my haste, I missed the whole "flatten with the palm of your hand" thing and just put the dough balls in the oven in their ice cream scooped shape.  Then, after about 5 minutes of baking I thought 'I wonder if those are going to flatten on their own'.  So I looked back at the recipe, and, sure enough, I'd skipped that step, so I pulled them out of the oven and, continuing my genius moment, tried to flatten a cookie with the palm of my hand.  Yep, it was scaldingly hot.  Epic fail. Lesson #1: read the recipe carefully before proceeding.  Lesson #2: If you missed Lesson #1, use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to flatten the cookies, not your hand. 
  9. Bake at 375 for 9 to 10 minutes.  You'll know they're done when there are small cracks in the tops. Ideally the edges do not brown
  10. Cool completely on cookie sheet before removing.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

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