Friday, February 10, 2017

"Food Court" Sugar Cookies

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When I was growing up, the sugar cookies my family made were the shortbread variety – the kind you ice and sprinkle and decorate at Christmas.  Although these were delicious, I preferred the sugar cookies sold in the mall food court.  They were soft, sweet and undercooked slightly so that the centers were still dense and doughy.  Sometimes they were dotted with M&M’s or other candies and they were the perfect alternative to the overly-chipped chocolate chip cookies available.

In trying to develop a recipe for these cookies, I went through my usual process of breaking down a known recipe and building a brand new one.  In this case, the “known” was my chocolate chip recipe.  The sugar cookies I loved were light in color, so brown sugar was out.  They were crisp on the edges but soft and chewy in the middle, so I used butter rather than margarine but more shortening than butter.  And, of course, no chocolate chips.

The initial batch was tasty but not quite what I was looking for.  I played with the ingredients and on batch #4 I found what I was looking for: the perfect “food court” sugar cookie.  (Side note: Batch #3 may show up on this blog in the future; they were fluffy and crispy and not what I was looking for this time around but not a fail.)

Food Court Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 C vegetable shortening
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla

Equipment

  • 2 large bowls
  • spatula
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • stand or hand mixer
  • baking sheet pan
  • 1” kitchen scoop (optional)
  • parchment paper (optional)
  • baking rack (optional)

Prior to baking the cookies, remove butter from fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.  When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.

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In a separate bowl (mixer bowl if you have a stand mixer), combine butter and shortening and whip together until lighter in color and fluffy (approximately three minutes).  Add sugar and beat together for another three minutes.  Slowly add eggs and vanilla, then beat for five minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape down the sides.

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Pour dry mixture into the wet ingredients and gently stir and fold them in.  Do not use the mixer as this is a stiff dough and it will ball up on the beaters (a strong paddle mixer like a KitchenAid should be able to handle it better).

cookie | sugar | sugar cookies | food court | mall | cookie co | mrs fields | m&m cookies | best | easy | yum | yummy | yummiest | chewy

With a 1” scoop, portion out the dough 3-4” apart on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet (if you do not have a scoop just roll the dough into 1” balls).  Bake each batch for 10-13 minutes; I have had the best results with 11 minutes but it will vary depending on your oven and pan.

cookie | sugar | sugar cookies | food court | mall | cookie co | mrs fields | m&m cookies | best | easy | yum | yummy | yummiest | chewy

Remove the baked cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a rack or countertop (if you can…most of mine never make it to room temperature).  Store in a tightly sealed container or bag so the cookies do not dry out and get hard; if they are slightly undercooked the hardening should not be too much of a problem.

This recipe will yield approximately three dozen cookies.
  
cookie | sugar | sugar cookies | food court | mall | cookie co | mrs fields | m&m cookies | best | easy | yum | yummy | yummiest | chewy

One last note: I have not been inside a mall in a long, long time so I'm not even sure if "mall cookies" are still a thing.  If you live near a mall with a food court, please let me know if cookie stores still exist and if they still serve those amazing sugar cookies.