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Sugar Cookies Pull a Fast One

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Brown Sugar Cookies

- Jenny

Has anyone in your house ever come up to you at approximately 8:12 PM while you were washing what you assumed to be the last dish of the night and said, “Oh I need a batch of homemade cookies to take to Jake tomorrow because he gave me an entire pack of Hi-Chews today in class and I promised him.”

No? You obviously do not live with a ‘tween, someone chronically forgetful or a person obsessed with cloying fruit-flavored chewy Japanese candy available at an Asian market near you.

No matter. The need for quick but delightful homemade baked goods infects all of our lives at times. Close readers of this blog, all nine of you, recall that I lamented this very fact a few weeks ago when I discovered the delightful and now go-to cupcake recipe for all manner of obligations: Nutella Cupcakes.

Consider Brown Sugar Cookies part two of this discussion. When you have a group to feed, and don’t have cupcake liners and cannot face another version of chocolate chip cookies, the sugar cookie is your friend. What I like about this recipe is that it is a twist on that story, without the added extra work of obscure or at least under-available ingredients.

Furey and the Feast entered these babies in the sugar cookie contest, and while they may not have been a finalist, I think most people would find them a strong addition to their make-it-fast baking list.

The loads of brown sugar this recipe calls for is what gives them their caramel, nutty taste and snap, but the cookies also maintain a certain chewiness, which I find is often the case when vegetable oil is involved.

I presented this pleasurable dichotomy to baker/blogger/super mom @simmertilldone, who, in what might be the most efficient use of Twitter DM, told me "I do think veg oil would keep an all-butter cookie from "crisping out" too much, as it's 100% liquid fat," and referred me to the food scientist Shirley Corriher, who has written several times that oil limits the production of gluten in flour. This is, I believe, another way of saying "makes them deeply pleasant to bite into." Now back to the recipe.

This is your standard set of mixing instructions here –- creaming butter with sugar, then adding your whisked dry ingredients at the end –- and those who bake often will find comfort in the do-it-in-your-sleepness of it all.

I notice that a previous recipe tester (Stephanie) suggested making smaller –- and thus more –- of these cookies. I see her point though the kids enjoyed a nice big chewy cookie. I would meet Madame Furey half way with my apportioning.

However, ease is never pay-off enough when it comes to food, is it friends? You need someone’s eyes to widen when they bite down. You need the affirmation that your home baked goodness is better than the fruity concoctions of Japanese candy makers. You need to know you are getting credit for home made cookies without making too much more effort than driving to Ralph’s for whatever horrific product they are passing off as a baked item that other people seem to feel is totally appropriate to fob off on unsuspecting young palates.

I can report to you these cookies fill that role.

Brown Sugar Cookies

By Furey and the Feast

Makes 18 cookies

  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Move the oven racks to the upper and middle third of your oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment paper. Cream the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer). Add the egg, vegetable oil and vanilla, and mix until incorporated.

2. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to a mixing bowl and mix until all the ingredients just come together (the dough will be a bit wet and crumbly).

3. Portion the dough into 18 balls (we're talking a little bigger than a golf ball) and place on cookie sheets about 2 1/2 inches to 3 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes. The cookies are done when still light in color but darker around the edges. Remove from oven, cool in pan for 10 minutes before placing on rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container or ziplock bag.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, is the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Jennifer Steinhauer


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Tags: Dinner, Faster, Everyday Cooking