A Tale of Two Cookies
As you know from previous posts, I love to tinker with recipes. You might wonder how I could tinker with quite possibly the most foolproof of all cookies, the sugar cookie! In a quest to bake the ultimate super soft sugar cookie I decided to see what’ll happen if.
Let me tell a tale of two cookies….
I bake cookies for Christmas every year with my ex-mother-in-law and dear friend, Sharon. Last week marked our 21st year of baking cookies together. One cookie we always make are molasses cookies. The last few years we have found they spread too much. This can happen when a cookie is pure butter but I really don’t like to add shortening to a cookie.
Sidenote: Mostly I don’t like adding shortening because I don’t like to eat cookie dough with shortening in it BUT I love to eat cookie dough with butter. I know, I know, CDC says “Don’t eat raw cookie dough”! I am therefore in no way suggesting anyone else should eat raw cookie dough but it is truly one of my favorite things EVER. I will continue to eat it and take my chances.
Back to our cookie dilemma…
How to prevent a spreading cookie?
I did some research and discovered that browning your butter helps prevent the spreading cookie. Why? Because it removes the water from the butter.
Another tip – Turn the heat up a bit. Simply upping the temp to 375 degrees fahrenehit instead of 350 can make a big difference in the spread of a cookie.
So in order to prevent our good ole Molasses Cookie recipe from spreading I browned the butter first! Removing the water did the trick and we had a wonderful tasting cookie that kept its shape with a slight crackle on the top. Straight out of the oven, they were amazing. Downside? The next day the cookie was still tasty but quite crispy.
I wanted a soft cookie.
Fast forward to this week when I pondered why that molasses cookie was crisp and my mind wandered to wanting to make a super soft sugar cookie. I did even more research and discovered this recipe in which the cookies were super soft!
How you ask?
Pure glorious egg yolks, no whites! I made the recipe (adapted because remember, I tinker) and was delighted by the soft cookie but felt like the cookie lacked flavor. Then it hit me! What if I made this sugar cookie again with all egg yolks and browned butter? Voila, the perfectly soft and flavorful cookie was born!
Do you think they baked up differently? You be the judge!
Look at the top photo; the 7 cookies on the left are without the browned butter, the 7 cookies on the right are with the browned butter. All others ingredients and conditions were the same…
Same baking sheet
Same type of butter
I think the ones on the right (the browned butter) not only tasted better but they stayed raised and were more tender than their watery butter counterparts! Now I just need to add egg yolks to our molasses cookies for yet another perfect cookie!
Super Soft Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. browned butter, solidified (1 c. unsalted before browning, see below)
1 c. sugar
4 egg yolks (easy way to separate yolks from whites)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. sugar, for rolling in a separate bowl
To brown the butter:
- Place the cup of butter in a medium sized saucepan and heat on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the butter no longer makes noise (that’s the water disappearing).
- Watch very closely as the milk solids will be getting brown and stuck to the bottom of the pan. Swirl the pan gently another minute or so until the butter is a deep, golden brown.
- Remove from the heat, let cool for several minutes and then transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate until ready for use.
To make the cookies:
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed for about a minute and is well combined.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until well combined.
- Add in the flour mixture and beat just until combined.
- Form the dough into balls about an inch in diameter and then roll in the sugar.
- Bake the cookies on a baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or just until slightly brown.
- They may seem slightly undercooked but that’s perfect. Resist letting them bake longer. Immediately remove the cookies from the baking sheet onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
This entry was posted in baking, cookies, Science of and tagged browned butter, egg yolks, super soft cookies.