Soft squishy sugar cookies
December 22, 2011 7:18 AM   Subscribe

I need a recipe for a soft, squishy sugar cookie.

I'm back with another cookie question! This time, I'm on the hunt for a sugar cookie recipe that produces soft, squishy, almost cake-like cutout cookies. I've searched high and low for the perfect recipe and have never found it. I do know that it's really important to never overbake cookies, so I have that covered; still, all my sugar cookies to date have turned out flat and sad. I want a cookie that is almost cake-like in texture.

I'd also appreciate a frosting recipe. The frosting on the cookies I'm imagining is dense, probably a buttercream of some kind, but not too heavy, if that makes sense.

If anyone here is from Rochester, NY, what I'm looking for is Wegman's sugar cookies from their bakery -- they're so good, but they cost $1 each, and I think I can replicate it at home. The ingredient that they have on their list that I've never experimented with in my sugar cookies is cream of tartar -- would that make my cookies squishier?

If you don't have the recipe but know the cookbook that it's in, that's fine.

Thank you!
posted by k8lin to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I would make these and just not roll them in Cinnamon Sugar. I've never rolled them out and cut them, but I don't see why that wouldn't work. I make them multiple times a year and they should be just what you're looking for. And, if they're not, well, it's a delicious cookie so worth it all the same. ;-)
posted by Jacob G at 7:40 AM on December 22, 2011

My dad used to make the most fantastic sugar cookies. I'm not 100% certain, but I think he used the joy of cooking recipe ( usually his recipes came from there) Maybe another mefi can confirm that the JOC produces awesome cookies. We used to use a mason jar instead of a cookie cutter to cut them out. Just a tip if you don't have a cookie cutter handy.
posted by bananafish at 7:42 AM on December 22, 2011

If you roll Fanny Farmer sugar cookies rather thick (like 1/4 an inch), they should be soft and somewhat cake-like.
posted by jb at 7:48 AM on December 22, 2011

You're going to want a recipe based on shortening rather than butter. Jacob G's look right in the zone.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:49 AM on December 22, 2011

Cream of tartar is used to provide the acid needed for baking soda to leaven the cookies. The combination is essentially baking powder. It isn't a magical squishening ingredient. Still, to get the texture you want you have to have some kind of leavening in the recipe. Without baking soda or baking powder you'll get those flat cookies you don't want.

Did you try the Wegmans sugar cookie recipe on the website? I wasn't sure if you saw the cream of tartar there or if you were looking at the ingredient label.
posted by cabingirl at 8:02 AM on December 22, 2011

My favorite cake-like cookie is Gourmet's Black & White. They're not for rolling out, but if you're considering a batch of round decorated cookies you might want to try them.

(By the way, the cream of tartar is a red herring; baking powder is pretty much just baking soda + cream of tartar. Shortening instead of butter is definitely going to help.)
posted by bcwinters at 8:02 AM on December 22, 2011

Best answer: Look no further.

My parents still live in the house they bought in 1969. Their next-door neighbor for almost all of the last 42 years was one Mary Palguta, now in in her early 90's and living (somewhat tenuously) with one of her kids. Mrs. Palguta always kept a store of her trademark pink sugar cookies, and I would regularly concoct excuses to go next door because she'd always offer me one. She gave me the recipe 10 years ago because my wife and I used these cookies as wedding favors. Never before published, here it is:

Mrs. Palguta’s Pink Sugar Cookies Revised

Cream well:
½ cup shortening ( butter-flavored Crisco or margarine)
1 cup sugar (cookies spread more with margarine)
2 eggs

red food coloring--enough to make a deep pink color
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together then add to above:
2 ½ cups flour--cups should be slightly rounded.. She uses
½ teaspoon cream of tartar Robin Hood flour.
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Transfer dough into clean bowl--folding dough to make sure bottom of mixture is fully mixed with the rest of the dough.
Chill or freeze for several hours and drop a rounded teaspoon full of dough into sugar. Roll in sugar. Form into ball. Bake. Parchment paper makes it easier --you don’t need to wash the pans between loads.

Bake 375 degrees for about 11 minutes in my oven. 12 per long cookie sheet. (325 for Mrs. P’s electric oven.)
You can check for doneness--cookies lose most of their glossy look.
They are firm to the touch.
You can test by using the spatula to pick up one. If it sticks, leaving any pink behind, bake a little longer. It crumbs are golden, they are done.

This recipe makes about 40 three inch cookies.
A KitchenAid mixer can handle 3 batches at a time, and it works better if you make at least a double batch in this type of mixer. A triple batch took about 2 hours to bake.
posted by jon1270 at 8:10 AM on December 22, 2011 [30 favorites]

Try this Lofthouse copycat recipe (frosting included).
posted by elsietheeel at 8:30 AM on December 22, 2011

My sugar cookies are pretty squishy, and the bonus is that they are the easiest thing in the known universe to make.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar

1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

barely 2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix. Roll into balls and smush down a bit with bottom of a sugar-coated glass (or skip the sugar coating if you're using icing and just smush). Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Let cool on wire rack and store in airtight container. Makes 2 dozen cookies.
posted by Go Banana at 8:34 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just made cookies with this recipe that uses sour cream (as always, I threw in a little extra vanilla). They're puffy, soft and delicious.

I used this recipe for the icing, because the icing in the recipe I used for the cookies seemed to have way too much butter. The icing was perfect: dense but not too dense, soft but not too soft, and after you let them sit for a while, it formed that tiny layer that crunches when you bite into it.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:51 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use this recipe for sugar cookies. I just swap out the cream of tartar and baking soda with the same amount of baking powder and use butter instead of margarine.

I find that the trick to super soft cookies is to freeze them before hand then bake at 375 for 7 minutes.
posted by astapasta24 at 10:51 AM on December 22, 2011

I second runningwithscissors about using sour cream. My wife makes great soft sugar cookies and while she isn't around to ask for the recipe right now, I know that the sour cream is key to staying soft. She also makes a version substituting almond extract for vanilla that I go nuts for.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:51 AM on December 22, 2011

Once, when I was nearly out of other kinds of flour, I did a crazy thing and made sugar cookies with half all-purpose flour and half King Arthur bread flour (I used this recipe, which it seems to me is similar to Go Banana's recipe posted here). They were surprisingly soft and chewy -- the best sugar cookies I've ever made.

I've been meaning to test it out again this year to see whether it was a fluke or a moment of accidental genius.
posted by BlueJae at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2011

I just made some sugar cookies that turned out delicious...soft & cakey. It was just a run-of-the-mill recipe but I was short on butter so I replaced half with plain shortening. The other thing I was thinking while I read your request is that the more you handle batters/doughs with flour, the more you activate the gluten, which in turn makes the cookies tougher and probably flatter, to. I've never made chewy rolled cookies, You might also think about using at least some bread flour instead of all-purpose. Read this.
posted by sugarbiscuit at 7:29 AM on December 23, 2011

This is just to note that Mrs. Palguta of the Pink Cookies described above died this week. In her honor, I've got a batch of dough chilling in the fridge right now.
posted by jon1270 at 4:32 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

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