25 February 2010

slinging hash: sugar cookies

I don't know anyone who doesn't like a cookie, and were I to run across such a person, I would be highly suspect of their character. Yet, at the risk of contradicting myself, or casting aspersions on my own character, there are a lot of down-home standby cookies which I could take or leave.

I blame it on the leavening. I find the slightly bitter, metallic taste of baking powder and soda compromises my cookie experience. That's why I favor baked goods in the shortbread/brownie vein. But after being deluged with shortbread for months on end, cookie fatigue sets in, my clientele children begin to revolt, and I am forced to come up with something new.

And thus the cycle begins anew.

The last time this happened, I turned to sugar cookies. Because they are, basically, shortbread with an egg yolk, I was not really moving far afield. The addition of the egg makes for a slightly richer, more tender cookie. Like shortbread, sugar cookies are roll, as opposed to drop cookies, which from my perspective as the cook, is neater and more streamlined.

You could accuse me of being selfish or lazy, and you would have a point, but I prefer to think that as a yogi, I'm merely trying to find the middle way for all manner of cookie lovers.

My preferred way of eating sugar cookies is sandwich style, with a layer of raspberry preserves, and so I prepared one batch this way. Sometimes, I really do not understand my children, because, in anticipation of any potential problems, I strained the seeds from the preserves before filling the cookies, yet two out of three still rejected them.

And so they have been happily eating plain sugar cookies for two weeks now. Lest I get too comfortable, as they finished the last batch, Sarah admonished that precisely because she likes sugar cookies, I should stop making them soon, because if she has to eat many more, she is going to be sick of them.

A woman's work is never done.

Sugar Cookies
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin

Once the cookies are cool, I heat about a half a cup of raspberry preserves in the microwave for about 30 seconds, strain it through a fine mesh sieve, spread on the cookies and top with another round.

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

raspberry preserves, optional

Cream the butter at high speed, preferably in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, about 1 minute.

Add the sugar, beat 3-4 minutes at medium high, until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla, beat a few more minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the flour and salt, mixing at low speed until dough comes together.

Shape dough into logs about 1-1/2 inches diameter. Roll logs in sugar, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.

Prior to baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Slice logs into 1/4 inch thick rounds and space on baking sheet. I like to sprinkle the tops with a bit of kosher salt.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on bottom. Fill with raspberry jam, or not.

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