Today I am excited to introduce you to Janine at Sugarkissed.net! She has a great blog that I hope you will take the time to stop by and visit and check out all of her great posts. She is a cookie lover too so it's perfect that she is here to share a great recipe and some amazing tips and tricks for Cookie Time Tuesday!
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Hi there, fellow cookie lovers! I'm Janine of sugarkissed.net, where creative sweets are made simple.
I was very excited when Lindy invited me to share my favorite sugar cookie recipe with her readers. It's always a compliment to be noticed by someone who is creative and talented. Plus, a woman who dedicates a day to cookies obviously has her priorities in order!
Let me start by saying that this sugar cookie recipe did not just fall in my lap one day. It holds a special place in my heart (and my tummy!) because I developed it by doing a lot of research and even more trial and error. All the hard work was worth it though, because now I can share with you how ingredients behave in a sugar cookie recipe.
Let the cookie chemistry begin...
The foundation of any cookie recipe consists of five types of ingredients: fat, sugar, flour, a rising agent, and a binding agent.
Fat is added for flavor and controls how chewy or crunchy the cookie is. More fat = a chewier cookie, less fat = a crunchier cookie. Your options for fat are butter, margarine, shortening, or oil. Since shortening melts at a higher temperature, it is the best choice if you want to keep spreading to a minimum.
Sugar is a sweetener (obviously!) and tenderizer, while controlling how much the cookie spreads. Using white sugar will result in a crispier cookie, while brown sugar will help retain moisture, making cookies chewier. Adding sugar increases the spread of a cookie, so cookies with less sugar will be puffier. Ever notice how sugar cookies spread like crazy?!
Flour is a stabilizer and thickener and controls how much the cookie rises. It holds the cookie together, providing it with its structure. If you use too little flour your cookie won't keep its shape but if you use too much you'll end up with a thick tasteless cookie. Also, different types of flour result in different cookie textures. For example, cake flour provides a cake-like texture (go figure!). All-purpose flour is the standard flour used most often.
The rising agent or leavener most commonly used is either baking soda or baking powder. If you use baking soda, your recipe must include another acidic ingredient, like sour cream, lemon juice, or buttermilk. On the other hand, baking powder has its own built-in acid. Baking soda increases browning and spreading, resulting in a flatter cookie. Baking powder will give you a puffier cookie.
Binding agents are the liquid in the recipe that hold the cookie together. Examples of binding agents are eggs, milk, honey, and fruit juice. Cookies with more eggs will rise more and spread less. If you want a crispier cookie, you can replace a whole egg with just an egg white. Or, if you want a chewier cookie, you can replace a whole egg with just an egg yolk.
The rule of thumb for cookie baking is to always keep the amount of fat and sugar used relatively equal. There should be less than 1/4 cup difference between the two. The amount of flour used should be about two times the amount of fat. To determine how much flour to use, start with equal amounts of flour and fat and then increase the amount of flour until the dough is slightly tacky. It is better to have too little than too much. And you should add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of your leavener for every cup of liquid or flour you use (use liquid to determine the baking soda, use flour to determine the baking powder).
Once you have these basic rules down, you can start to tinker with recipes to make them more to your taste. Like I did! The sugar cookie recipe I am sharing with you is my go-to recipe for cutout cookies. The cookies get rave reviews for their taste and at the same time are sturdy enough for decorating, stacking and shipping.
1-1/8 cup unsalted butter 1-1/4 cup sugar 1 egg + 1 egg yolk 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream together the butter and sugar. I set the butter out on the counter for about 30 minutes, chopped into small squares, to bring it to room temperature before beginning. (I have had bad luck with using the microwave to bring butter to room temperature.)
Beat in the eggs (I set these out on the counter with the butter to bring them to room temperature too), vanilla, and almond flavorings.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
One cup at a time, mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Scraping down your bowl as needed.
Divide dough up into three sections, Saran wrap, and refrigerate overnight. (For some reason cookies just taste better when the dough is refrigerated overnight.)
When you are ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes so it's not too hard to work with. After rolling and cutting your dough, set your dough shapes in the freezer for about 10 minutes before baking to reduce spreading.
Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheets at 350 for 6 to 8 minutes. After removing the cookies from the oven, let them sit for a couple of minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
Once you're ready to decorate, head on over to sugarkissed.net for a recipe for royal icing that won't dry rock hard and lots of creative decorating ideas (complete with step-by-step tutorials)!