Sunday, October 18, 2009

The New Sugar Cookie

The New Sugar Cookie

I'd like to say there is a pithy story behind the invention of the cookies, but in truth, I was simply looking for a way to update the classic sugar cookie. I didn't want any "add-in" since that would detract from the simple appeal of sugar cookie simplicity. Instead, I decided to make the sugar itself more sophisticated. What can you do to up the up the intrigue of sugar? Cook into caramel...

1 ½ cup sifted powdered sugar
½ cup heavy cream
3 tbsp butter

1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour
Sea salt

Directions for the Caramel:
  1. Heat powdered sugar over medium heat in a saucepan.
  2. Just as the sugar is almost completely melted, stir in cream and butter.
  3. Heat caramel until it thickens and turns a deep amber color.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature
Directions for Cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream butter together with the cooled caramel.
  3. Add vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Stir in bread flour.
  5. Drop 1-2 tablespoon size balls onto a baking sheet with parchment paper
  6. Sprinkle with high quality sea salt
  7. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min
The takeaway here concerns the use of bread flour in place of all purpose flour. Bread flour has a higher gluten content - the protein that helps hold all the ingredients together. This creates cookies that are less tender and delicate, but still puffy and soft (think, the texture of white bread minus the crust). These are sturdy cookies that stay soft and round. In the words of my mother as she tried to describe the surprising but not at all unpleasant texture: little "cakelettes".

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