I love giving baked goods as hostess gifts or presents during the holiday season. I think a tin full of fresh-baked cookies always trumps a bottle of wine but then I have a voracious sweet tooth, so I may be the odd man out on that last statement. However, I can rest comfortably knowing that this sugar cookie recipe I am sharing with you is hands down one of the best cookie recipes I have in my arsenal. Chewy but not dense, flavorful but not cloying, these sugar cookies are the perfect holiday cookie that can stand on their own or be decorated with royal icing.
I urge you to test them out for yourself and tell me what you think!
Chewy Sugar Cookies
Yield: 2 Dozen Cookies
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in medium bowl and set aside.
3. Place 1 1/2 cups of sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Place remaining sugar (1/3 cup) in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (small lumps of cream cheese will remain). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, vanilla and lemon zest; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft dough forms.
4. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each. Using hands, roll dough into balls. working in batches, roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 cookies per sheet. Using the bottom of drinking glass, flatten dough balls. Sprinkle tops evenly with sugar in shallow dish (approximately 2 tablespoons per tray).
5. Bake 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just being to turn golden, approximately 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool .
– Normally I am all for using my KitchenAide mixer but this dough benefits from a “soft hand”, so whisking by hand is needed.
– This cookie dough is soft and slightly sticky. I would recommend putting in 2 1/2 cups of flour to start with and then gradually adding more flour until it forms.
– Avoid the temptation to leave the cookies until the edges brown. You want the cookies to be pale and the edges to be slightly golden. If you bake the cookies too long you lose their chewy texture.
– Feel free to leave out the lemon zest but I think it adds a nice fresh taste to the cookie.
– Use a light hand when sprinkling the sugar on the top of the cookies. Sprinkle too much and you end up with a sandy cookie.