A trade

In theory, and of course in appearance, these cookies are very good. They stack, they are crisp—they tie nicely with a bow. With a cookie cutter on top and left in a friend's mailbox as a surprise, they would be the perfect gift.

I say would because, well, they simply don't taste very good. I made them from a recipe in Cooking Light, which I have to admit I sometimes forget is focused on cutting out the fat. (This cannot ever, I feel I can now say, be a good thing for a cookie.) But they usually do a pretty good job, and I got so sucked in by the idea, the thin, towering stack of crispy vanilla wafers, that I convinced myself they'd be good.

The illusion dissolved last night. I should have known when I didn't lick the bowl; even the batter didn't taste good. I went through the steps anyways, rolling and cutting and rolling again. I baked and cooled them carefully, knowing, I think, all the while that there was no way they'd ever be saved.

The trouble is, I'm still very much in love with the idea. So I figured I'd propose a trade. I'll give you my grandmother's sugar cookie recipe, which—and I know I'm biased, but I think you'll find I'm also entirely correct—really is the best sugar cookie recipe in the world. It is simple, elegant, and easy, and produces cookies so scrumptious they are equally good with or without frosting.

So here you are. If you have any thin, crisp cookies to offer up in exchange, I hope you're willing to share. (I'm thinking in the gingersnap, vanilla-spice vein, but really I'm up for whatever.) Happy cookie baking and gifting.


Makes 2 to 3 dozen
(depending how thin you like them, and what size cookie cutters you choose)

Cream 1 stick butter with 1 cup sugar. Add 2 eggs, well beaten, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 cups flour. Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until just combined. Form into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for an hour or several if possible. Roll out (you will need plenty of flour, as the dough starts out very stick), cut into holiday shapes, and bake 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you choose to frost them, I recommend doing with with this basic icing. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small, heavy bottomed pan, add a dash of cream, and pour in powdered sugar, stirring every few seconds or so, until it reaches the desired consistency. As it cools, you may need to add more cream and stir periodically or it will begin to harden as the butter re-solidifies. Add food coloring and sprinkles if you please; peppermint extract also makes a lovely addition.


Emily said...

They are beautiful, but I'm reading Pollan's "In Defense of Food" right now and he's completely convinced me of the need to bring the fat back into our diets, so I heartily approve of your grandmother's recipe!

Elspeth said...

ha I totally agree! What a good read...

Hannah Bailey said...

I’ve made these cookies a couple of times now and they’ve always worked out perfectly. So thank you for a great recipe.

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