Gimme some sugah….

A colleague in one of my employer’s branch offices lost everything in a house fire last week (people safe, things destroyed). It’s so hard to wrap your mind around that, when the roof over your own head and all your accumulated schtuff is safe and intact. As a corporation, my employer has its, um, quirks, but I must say that its worker bees do rally ’round each other in times of crisis, and as soon as the news spread, fundraisers were put in place for this week.

First up was a bake sale on Monday. Wanting to make crowd-pleasers, I whipped out my King Arthur Flour’s Cookie Companion – a gigantic tome chocked full of good stuff for sweet tooths (sweet teeth?). I’ve baked their chewy sugar cookies before and knew they would be a hit (with the help of a special, secret ingredient not in the original recipe, which I will reveal here.)

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Okay, not one able to keep a secret for very long, I’ll cut right through the suspense (all 10 seconds of it): the special ingredient in these cookies is Fiori di Silicia (first photo below). It’s a sweet, citrusy blend of creamy vanilla-ness. When you sniff the bottle, it has that quality of, “Now, just what is that scent … I can’t quite put my finger on it.” Lovely stuff. Use in place of all or a portion of vanilla extract in recipes without competing flavors (like chocolate). It’s perfect for sugar cookies, lending a scent detectable (and delectable) even as you stand over the plate, and everyone will ask you what you put in your cookies to make them so delicious. (Available at KingArthurFlour.com.)

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The dough is just beautiful to work with. Slightly sandy, it holds together well and molds to the ball shape you need. As you can see from the photo above, I slightly flattened the balls once they’re on the sheet. I’ve found this produces a more uniformly puffed cookie.
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Just look at those crinkly tops with the sparkly sugar. Oh my. This is one of those times when a scratch-n-sniff website would be really cool, except that you would scratch scratches right into your monitor (or, to avoid projecting my own thing on you all, *I* would scratch scratches right into *my* monitor, clawing to get at the scent all day at work).
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Finally, knowing that presentation counts for something (and hopefully more donations), I packed these babies, two by two, into these cute little gable boxes. (Above, right, shows part of the display at the actual bake sale. To the right of my gable boxes, you can see that some caring soul took the presentation appeal several steps further by attaching adorable little stuffed animals to their baked goods.)
The Essential Chewy Sugar Cookie

The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

  3/4 cup unsalted butter
  3/4 cup granulated sugar
  1/2 cup brown sugar
  1/4 cup light corn syrup
  1 teaspoon vanilla
  1 teaspoon Fiori di Silicia
  1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  1/2 teaspoon salt
  1 large egg
  2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  1/4 cup coarse sugar, for coating

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper) two baking sheets.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, granulated and brown sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and egg. Stir in the flour.

Place the coarse sugar in a shallow dish. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful into the sugar, rolling the balls to coat them. Place them on the prepared baking sheets two inches apart.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until the edges are just barely beginning to brown; they’ll look soft. If you bake these cookies too long, they’ll be crunchy, not chewy. Remove them from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


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