When I need something to do I write or cook. I’m not a big baker, but every once in a while I try a new kind of cookie, because….well, why the hell not.
Sugar cookies can be a bitch to make. Too crunchy, sometimes flavorless, a good, chewy, and creamy sugar cookie can be harder to achieve than you might think. So, I looked at this as more of an afternoon science experiment than a baking endeavor.
The flavors I picked are what I gravitate toward on a perfect autumn day. Naturally, I picked an 80 degree day in January to bake them. You see, Austin no longer has seasons; I just have to pretend that there’s fall and winter. It’s been years since I made a good stew, because I struggle to see the point. Sometimes I think I gotta move back to New England…and none of that has anything to do with cookies.
So for this I just took a very basic sugar cookie recipe, blended it with tips from America’s Test Kitchen, and added some spunk in the form of flavors I personally like.
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 oz. cream cheese
6 TBSP butter, melted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP milk
An additional 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ginger to roll onto cookie dough.
The beginning was the usual mundane of baking cookies: I preheated the oven to 350.
I mixed the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. I threw the 1 1/2 cups sugar, the cream cheese, and spices in a large mixing bowl with the melted butter. The warm butter helped breakdown the cream cheese. I stirred this together and then added the egg and milk and blended until incorporated. Finally, I dumped in the flour mixture and stirred everything until it formed a smooth dough.
I then rolled the dough into 24 balls and rolled those into the 1/2 cup of sugar mixed with cinnamon and ginger. I placed 12 on a cookie sheet sprayed with cookie spray, and pressed the cookie dough balls down evenly until they were about 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches in diameter. I sprinkled just a little more of the sugar mixture over the top of each smooshed cookie and baked for 11 minutes. I made sure not to allow the edges to become golden brown; I wanted enjoyable cookies, not sugary crackers.
The cookies came out perfect. Sweet without being too sweet, flavorful, crunchy on the outside and just soft enough in the center. And they’re perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, like an American biscotti or biscuit without the over abundance of crumbs. Excellent for pretending it’s fall or winter when global warming is totally against you.