Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The Best Sugar Cookies?

There's a question mark at the end of the title here because if anything is subjective, it's the goodness of a sugar cookie. Do you like them crispy? Soft? Fluffy? Dense? Super sweet, or should the frosting take care of that? I'll give you my grandma's recipe, which creates a scarily delicate dough that bakes up into my personal favorite sugar cookies. They're not soft or cakey, but not crispy or crunchy. I guess they're kind of chewy? But not too chewy. They aren't super sweet, and depending on how much nutmeg you dash into them, they have a little more oomph than just "sugar and butter flavored." Plus, they possess that special quality that makes you keep eating them, along with any leftover dough you try to keep in the freezer. 

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a food processor with the dough blade, or a stand mixer with the dough hook, or a bowl with your cavewoman hands, cream:
1 cup softened butter
1 cup lard (or Crisco)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
dash of nutmeg 

Sift together and slowly add to your creamed mixture:
4 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping tsp baking powder

Be careful not to over-mix. Just when the dough comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface and separate into two hunks. One at a time, roll to roughly 1cm thick with a floured rolling pin. Try not to knead the dough or work with it too much. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters or a knife and arrange about an inch or two apart on a baking sheet. Bake until golden for I don't know how long, 8-10 minutes probably? Just look at them and take them out before they turn a tan color all the way across the tops. Remove to cooling racks. Repeat.

Here's the best frosting for these. I like to make a few bowls of different colors and frost each cookie entirely, then go back over them with sprinkles or those colored icing tubes.

What's your recipe?

Related: any suggestions for a yummy, substantial (filling) finger/walking around/no fork-and-plate needed food to serve at a holiday party? This soppressata and cheese in puff pastry was a hit last year, but I'd like to try something new.

36 Comments / Post A Comment


Suggestion for walk-around food: Mini-chimis! And you can even do red pepper and green pepper versions, for the holidays!




crumbled Gorgonzola (not too strong), prosciutto (thin little ribbons), & anjou pears (diced up small) as a filling inside puff pastry or, if you want to make it really easy, crescent roll dough.


@leon s see also: figs, carmelized onions, balsamic and goat cheese; feta, walnut, and chopped parsley; chicken, pecans, and roasted grapes; etc.


@leon s @christonacracker You guys are inviting me to your holiday party, right?


@christonacracker - Oh man, so many of these. My all-time killer appetizer is super thin slices of fresh homemade baguette, i line 'em all up on a tray some parchment paper, drizzle some bamboo honey over it (it's so superdark and awesome), put a little slice of goat cheese down over each, half of a fresh fig, then drizzle it all over again with this crazy viscous vanilla-fig balsamic vinegar i have, and then a couple of cracks of black pepper over the whole thing, and put it in the oven just enough to get a little warm and give a little heft to the bread.

It's...it's basically just the best food thing ever. It also works without the figs.

OH - And the prosciutto/pear/gorgonzola thing - that mixture + whole wheat anything (i stuff it inside whole wheat tortolli or ravioli) + walnut & rosemary & hazelnut in a little olive oil.

Oh man, I made those two dishes, plus a white bean/escarole/fresh sausage soup, and then some steak & brocoli rabe a month ago when my dad and his new ladyfriend came to visit. it was the most amazing day of just eating all day long.


@leon s Where might one find this amazing sounding vanilla-fig balsamic vinegar?

Blackwatch Plaid

@leon s Oh my gosh. Foodgasm.

Hot Doom

@leon s I heartily endorse the vanilla fig balsamic! It's also so so nice with strawberries or pear and black pepper in salads, or on good vanilla ice cream as a dessert.

@jilt, I got mine at the ferry building in San Francisco, but it's available in many iterations and price ranges online. It costs like $15-20 usually, but it's just so flippin' lovely and goes a long way.


@jilt - I get mine from here. I don't want to use the name and have some google alert voodoo show up or like, make the internet think i'm shilling for them (I know nothing about how the internet works) and I've only tried the one - I dunno about them selling dipping oils, cuz those aren't too hard to make on your own, and I don't know anything about their practices as a company, so I'm hesitant to endorse, but I really, really love the vanilla fig balsamic.


I like this sugar cookie recipe, which I might have stolen from the comment section here last halloween. anyways, they are the super soft (but not gross and mushy/pasty, and the soft ones sometimes are)) delicate almondly ones.


@christonacracker I mean these http://pinchmysalt.com/the-never-too-late-for-ghost-sugar-cookies-recipe/




I am of the opinion that sugar cookies are a waste of time and space. Bleh. Give me ANY OTHER COOKIE over a bland, boring sugar cookie. "But they're cute!" Yeah, so what. Call me when you add some nuts or rosewater.


@frigwiggin I don't want to say that you're wrong, per se...

...because what I want to say is even stronger than that. I want to say that no one in history has ever held an opinion more diametrically opposed to objective truth than what you've just spouted forth.



@frigwiggin I'm interested in this rosewater idea.


@Emby I regret that I have but one like to give for this comment.


But I do like bland things, e.g., second favorite lunch: plain noodles and unsalted butter.


@frigwiggin I'M WITH YOU


I have two finger food suggestions, both of which always go over with great success.

1. Spread creme fraiche over naan. Layer Gruyere and roasted root vegetables over creme fraiche. Broil/bake until cheese is toasty. Slice into rectangles. (base could also be pita, pre-baked pizza dough or puff pastry.)
2. Bacon jam. Recipes abound and it's both a) easy and b) hugely popular with guests. Serve on top of thinly sliced and toasted baguette rounds.


Sugar cookies are my favorite part of Christmas, which is for some reason the only time I eat them. But I just. cannot. with. the Crisco. I feel like this may well be the best sugar cookies if you use all butter though.


@swampette LARD.


Thank you for sharing your grandma's recipe. A few things happened tonight that are making me feel all kinds of feels about family and tradition and grandparents, so I guess what I'm saying is: LET'S ALL MAKE EVERYBODY'S GRANDMA'S SUGAR COOKIES!

...And chewy. Soft and chewy for all cookies forever.




Does the finger food have to be hot? If not, spread a big flour tortilla with the garlic-and-herb cream cheese of your choice (Alouette, Boursin, whatever), cover with a layer of spinach (grown-up is easier than baby, but whatever) and a layer of thinly sliced smoked turney, and roll up tight. Repeat till you run out of an ingredient. Wrap two or three rolls at a time in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours, then slice into good-size chunks and spear each chunk with a pretty toothpick. Et voila!

Pocket Witch

Sugar cookies! With cream cheese, so they're extra delicious, if you like cream cheese.

I collect recipes. Tasty recipes. They sit in a giant file until I test them, then the good ones get moved to the 'keep forever' file.


@Pocket Witch My grandma's sugar cookie recipe has sour cream in it. They are the best.

Hot Doom

I think the answer to all holiday problems, queries and dramas is "Deviled Egg Snowmen".

But failing that- Jane (and anyone else in the LA area)! I have to recommend Mark and Stephen's for incredibly delicious jams, pestos, mustards and vinaigrettes that have served as the basis for many a canapé and crudite for my family's holiday gt-togethers. They have a sliiightly janky website but they sell (last time I checked, at least) at many LA farmer's markets, including the Saturday one in Pasadena High School, where I used to get mine. It's not on their website, but they do amazing artichoke pesto, and a gorgeous lemon-basil olive oil. ANYWAY, if you're feeling farmer's markety, I highly recommend sampling and getting their goods in person. I have no affiliation with them, it's just that the cabernet jam and pesto make me verklempt and they totally deserve the business.

Also! I heartily second Leon St J's endorsement of thinly sliced baguette with nice things on top. I like to spray or brush olive oil on mine, give it a toasty char in a grill pan or under the broiler and then do the thick vanilla balsamic vinegar (I'm sure Gelson's or Bristol Farms has it) with gorgonzola or St Augur bleu cheese, pear and prosciutto, or for veggies, gorgonzola, pear and toasted walnuts. I swear to god, I live for cocktail hour nibblies.

Hot Doom

@Hot Doom I know, Leon totally mentioned the cheese+prosciutto+pear upthread, but this is just another endorsement for the combo! And spicy nuts!. As long as no one at the party has a nut allergy, these are glorious. I sometimes do a mixture of brown and white sugar that deepens that flavor a bit, but these things are addictive and great alongside booze and cheese.


Sugared cranberries are finger-friendly, so beautiful and so deceptively easy! They pair really well with cheese and other savory things.

Hello Dolly

@SarahP Thank you for this link! I tried finding a recipe for sugared cranberries last year and all I could find were recipes that made cranberry sauce or mushy cranberries.

Lily Rowan

You need a knife to serve it, but not to eat it, but the objectively best party food is Brie en croute. It could not be easier! Buy a round of brie, buy some puff pastry, buy some chutney (or find a recipe for another kind of topping), but them together and bake and it looks like a Super Fancy Hors D'Oeuvre.


My mother and I are both avid bakers, and sugar cookies are the one thing we flat out refuse to bake. So much time and energy, and my father will invariably complain they aren't thin enough. His mother makes them so delicately thin they dissolve on your tongue, which is amazing, and so we leave it to her.

As for walking-around food, I love making spanakopita, folded into little triangular packages. They are so effort-intensive on the front end, but then you can freeze them and eat them 4-5 at a time for weeks.

Gougeres are very easy, and also tasty, though they contain stealth cheese, so I would be careful if you have any non-dairy eaters attending.


I like crispy sugar cookies the best. But 'Piners, I need to find a great gingerbread cookie recipe that works for the Australian crowd (stepdaughter is coming over and is very picky), so if anyone has a great gingerbread cookie recipe, could you post it? (and I'd be really thrilled if it was gluten-free, but I can always adapt it).

Jane, finger food - super easy (if a little gooey to make) and soooooo yummy. You cut a date in half, get rid of the pit, slather in some cream cheese and top it with a walnut. The cream cheese plus sweetness of the date plus the walnut equals a little mouthful of heaven.

Wendy Darling@facebook

First I should say that I do not bake. Baking = science and details, and I cook "intuitively" i.e. fast-and-loose. So my cookies always turn out like crap. Then, I found this recipe in an old Cooking Light recipe book (don't judge). It used all brown sugar, so its more complex. I put some sugar with texture on top and they are lovely:


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons margarine, softened

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
Cooking spray


Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl, and set aside. Beat margarine at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add vanilla and egg white, and beat well. Add flour mixture, and stir until well-blended. Turn dough out onto wax paper; shape into a 6-inch log. Wrap log in wax paper; freeze 3 hours or until very firm.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut log into 24 (1/4-inch) slices, and place slices 1 inch apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire racks.


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