A Taste From Home: Super Soft Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies
Image by talkoftomatoes via Flickr

By Jean Gruber
Staff Writer

When I think of winter, the first thought that comes to mind is feasting through the holidays with my family and friends.  To me, the holiday season means the warm smell of an open fire, roasted butternut squash, skiing, cookies, milk,  and cookies.  As a child I would bake cookies with my mom and leave them under the tree for Santa on Christmas Eve.  Before opening any gifts on Christmas morning, I would read the note from Santa and his reindeer thanking me for baking such a delicious treat.  Today, I am able to develop my own cookie recipes and trust my father as the experienced tester, and he no longer has to leave a note.  Last year during this time, I was getting ready for Christmas break, where I spent hours baking different kinds of cookies including chocolate chip, peanut butter, gingerbread, oatmeal, white chocolate macadamia nut, and so on.  My soft sugar cookies are everyone’s favorite, and they never disappoint.  The combination of butter and shortening creates a melt in your mouth texture that is a perfect match for a tall cup of milk or hot chocolate. Here it is:

Super Soft Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup shortening

2/3 cup butter

1 ½ cups white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º F.  In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and 1-½ cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Combine flour baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.  Slowly mix flour mixture into butter, eggs, and sugar until dough comes together.  Roll the dough with your hands into walnut sized balls and roll in granulated sugar, (or cinnamon sugar) place on large sheet pans lined with parchment paper.  Pat the dough balls down slightly with the bottom of a glass.  The secret to all my cookies (including this one) is freezing the raw cookies for 15 minutes before placing them in the hot oven.  By making the dough super cold the exterior of the cookie becomes crisp, and the middle stays soft and chewy.  This recipe is extremely versatile.  For M&M cookies, top each dough ball with M&M’s before freezing.  The possibilities are endless.  My mom loves to top each cookie with lemon glaze (2 tbsp. lemon juice and 2/3 cup confectioners sugar) after baking.  My favorite variation is the cinnamon sugar combination.  Transfer the frozen dough balls onto a room temperature cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper) and bake for 10-12 minutes.  The cookies will look pale so be careful to not over bake.  Enjoy!

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