Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sugar Cookie Bake-Off and Taste Test

(left to right: Amish Sugar Cookies, Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies, and Lofthouse Sugar Cookies)

Today my buddy, Kaela, came over and we decided to determine which of the new sugar cookie recipes I've acquired will be the one I stick with this year - if not indefinitely. Over the years, I've probably tried a dozen different varieties - those with powdered sugar vs. regular, butter vs. shortening or buttered-flavor shortening, those with cream cheese or whipping cream or milk - or no dairy at all, those with the distinct taste of cream of tartar - and those without.

I prefer a soft sugar cookie, one similar to the "Lofthouse" cookie you'll often see in grocery stores within a clear plastic container - holding about 8 frosted cookies - seasonally colored and covered in sprinkles. They are fluffy cookies and very yummy.

I'm not much for rolling out the dough to make cut-outs - too much work. But, on occasion it is good to know if you have a recipe that works perfectly for that route.

Finally, I bypass working through a frosting recipe and always use my old stand-by of Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting. It's my fav....any other kind of frosting (unless it's homemade) and it's just not the same.

We tried to put every cookie on the same playing field - using almond extract in each one, and putting the same frosting and sprinkles on each. Brayden, Mikayla, Stephie W. (though I have yet to hear her verdict), Travis, John, Kaela, and myself all did a taste test. Actually, Syd even tried some while we went to pick the kids up from school. She chose two of the Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies - stretching up to get them off the stove top - while completely ignoring the batch of Lofthouse Cookies within a better reach for her on the table. Hmmmm....(Bad Dog!)

So, here's the recipes we tried and under each one you'll find our review of it......

LOFTHOUSE COOKIES

1 cup Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
4 cups flour

Cream sugar and shortening. Add flavoring and then egg. Beat until very smooth. Then add the whipping cream. Beat until lumps are nearly gone.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the creamed mixture a little at a time. Do not overmix at this point.

Roll in balls and slightly flatten. Cookies will retain much of the shape you set them out with, so don't worry about them overspreading. Bake approx. 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

(Indeed just as close of recipe as I've found to imitate the store bought variety. However, they were a little "thicker" and denser than what I realize I like the most)


CREAM CHEESE SUGAR COOKIES

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour

Combine butter and cream cheese. Beat for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooded spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

Roll into large flattened balls (the cookie will retain the shape and spread little or none during baking) - or roll out dough to about a quarter inch thickness. Use cut-outs as desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

(We accidentally baked these at 350 and they worked great - so you may want to consider that. The flavor is very complex and good, but it is a very dense cookie. I think these would be ideal for cut-outs as the shape changes very, very little upon baking)


AMISH SUGAR COOKIES

1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup cooking oil (I used canola)
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Cream sugars, butter and oil. Beat in eggs and extract. Combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Stir into sugar mixture until thoroughly blended. Dough will be soft. Refrigerate until chilled. Drop by ball onto cookie sheet. Flatten slightly - cookie will spread slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

(Hands down - the group who taste-tested - this was their favorite. I like the cream of tartar "zing" in the aftertaste of the cookie (a taste I often associate with snickerdoodles). I also like the "lightness" of the cookie and the ideal way it stayed fluffy but often spread just enough upon baking).

3 comments:

Stephietoo said...

I like the big ones- which look like the Amish ones. Those are my favorite. Although, anything you make is my 'favorite'!

Bonnie said...

whoo hoo! those look awesome - thanks for he recipes!

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