Tender Sugar Cookies
Trisha ThompsonTrisha Thompson makes a Tender Sugar Cookie Recipe in this installment of KitchenDaily's Family Chef series, in which home cooks make recipes from our database and tell you how it went -- what they changed, what they kept and who was in the kitchen helping.
I am partial to names of things that feature the word "tender." Tender Is the Night, "Love Me Tender," Tender Mercies, tenderloin. It's a beautiful word, conjuring something more complex than simple kindness or love or delicacy. Given how I feel about this adjective, when I saw a recipe for Tender Sugar Cookies, I had to make them.
Before I started baking, though, I watched the CIA video, "How to Make Cookies." I've been making cookies since I was in high school, but continuing education is always good, I feel, even when it's just a refresher course. Plus, I like watching these chef-profs teach -- they're the academic antidote to exuberant TV chefs. Watching Chef Rossomando discourse here on the blending of butter and sugar, I practically expected her to use the word "hermeneutics." I also realized that this how-to series would be an excellent means of teaching my teenage daughters more about cooking -- they're at the age where they resent their mother trying to teach them anything, especially in the kitchen or behind the wheel. So now I'm going to just casually play one of these little videos as they're sitting at the kitchen island, stealing bites of ingredients.
I gathered my cookie ingredients (the butter had been softening) and got going: creaming the butter (one stick sweet, one salted) with the sugar (I mixed brown and white); stirring together the flour, baking powder, and salt; adding the egg and vanilla to the butter-sugar mix. It made a stiff dough that was malleable and easy to scoop and smush into a circle on the ungreased cookie sheets. Madeline, Ellie, and I topped them with a flurry of white granulated sugar, blue sugar crystals, or chocolate chips. A cookie recipe couldn't get much quicker or easier.
The oven was preheated to the unusually low temperature of 300F, and the recipe note pointed this out, saying the cookies were intended to bake longer and at a lower temp than most cookies. But after the recommended 15 minutes, the dough was still raw, so I cranked the oven up to 350 and gave it another 5 or so minutes. The result, my husband decided, was more like shortbread than sugar cookies: buttery, not too sweet, and most of all very tender. "A good cookie for afternoon tea," said Madeline, my poetic daughter, "or with your cup o' joe to go on the morning drive," said Ellie, my ironic daughter. Next time I'm going to try adding lemon juice and zest to the dough, instead of vanilla extract. Doesn't lemon make things even more tender...?