I used to not be a huge fan of cookies (I know. what?). Given the choice between cookies and say, cheesecake, or pie, I would never choose a cookie. All of this changed in England though, when I discovered Ben’s Cookies. They were soft, yet crunchy. Sweet, but kind of salty. I realized I had just been eating sub-par cookies, and after seeing the light, I’ve now embraced the goodness that is a perfectly made chocolate chip cookie.
I’m still struggling to get on the sugar cookie bandwagon though. Sugar cookies are not part of the European/Balkan dessert repertoire and I always felt like they were missing something. I decided to give them another shot though when my sister and I both needed some sweet treats to bring to friends, and I think I’m starting to come around….the addition of cream cheese frosting certainly didn’t hurt things.
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recipe adapted from The Professional Palate ; makes about 3 dozen cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
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In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter for a few minutes, until light and fluffy
When combined, add the milk, vanilla & almond extracts, and egg, mix until it all comes together.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add it to your wet ingredients in 3 batches, and beat until combined.
Dump your dough onto a lightly floured surface and mush it all together to combine. Its kind of a sticky dough, so just keep the flour coming on your hands and the work surface so that you can combine it all.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and and refrigerate for an hour or so, just so that its easier to roll out and work with. I separated off about 1/4 of my dough and dyed it red with a few splashes or red food coloring. This was because I bought a lobster cookie cutter in New Hampshire and I’ve been itching it put it to work.
Once your dough is nice and chilled, grab your rolling pin and roll your dough out. If you like soft cookies, go for about 1/4 inch thickness, even more if you like. If you like them crunchy, go even thinner. I used powdered sugar to flour my surface so that my dough wouldn’t get tough from additional flour. I also dunked my cookie cutters into the powdered sugar before I used them so that they wouldn’t stick to the dough. The dough gets sticky as it warms up, so try and avoid handling it too much with warm hands so that it will cooperate with you!
Preheat your over to 375
Once your cookies are cut out, put them on cookie sheets with wax paper or no stick spray. Pop the cookie sheets into the freezer for about 5 minutes or so prior to baking. Depending on the thickness of your cookies, they will take about 8 or so minutes to bake. Check on them by sticking a toothpick in the middle to see if it comes out clean. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 10-12 minutes, and let them cool completely on a wire rack prior to frosting.
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
4 tbsp butter
1 or 2 tbsp milk
2-4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp coconut extract
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In a standing mixer or a bowl with a hand-held mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter, 1 tbsp of your milk, and vanilla extract.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time and mix together. How much powdered sugar you use depends on how sweet you like your frosting. I ended up adding about 2 1/2 cups (I don’t like super sweet frosting), but just add a bit and taste as you go. Add the extra tbsp of milk (or more, if necessary) if your frosting is too thick and you like it runnier. I went with about 1 tbsp.
The coconut extract is also contingent on your taste–I added about 1 1/2 tsp for a great coconut flavor that wasn’t overpowering. My suggestion would be to just add 1 tsp, mix it, and give it a taste. If it needs more, add about 1/2 tsp more at a time until you’re happy with the flavors.
Grab your sprinkles and your cooled cookies, and get to decorating! My sister was kind enough to handle sprinkle/decoration duties while I frosted. I reserved some of the plain frosting prior to adding the coconut, so some had simple vanilla cream cheese frosting, while others had the coconut. My favorite was definitely the coconut frosting.
This recipe was great because it made so many cookies–my sister and I both had enough to take to our friends and have some leftovers. I ended up marbling the rest of the red dough with the white dough for a few pretty ones that I left frosting-less for those people who don’t like frosting. I also ended up having a lobster cookie tragedy–I should have made my dough fatter because they ended up being too brittle and breaking when I took them off the tray (hence the lobster bodies in the bowl). We still ate them though (hence the fact that there is only 1 lobster body in the bowl)–they were too yummy to pass up!