Santa got first dibs on the only sugar cookies I ever had growing up.
I knew from the pictures I’d seen of Santa in books that he wore white gloves. Still, that didn’t help my germ phobias. Really, how clean were those gloves, what with taking care of the reindeer and all? I was not about to let some old man I’d never met—no matter how glowing the reports about him were—touch my food. Each Christmas morning I let my sisters finish off the sugar cookies that Santa allegedly didn’t touch. I was fine waiting for the extras my mom had made.
I never understood how come we had sugar cookies only once a year. Not to mention the confusion about their being for someone else—a fat man in a red suit who, truth be told, was sometimes a mediocre gift giver (case in point: the sewing machine I got as a teen). Mom said sugar cookies were time consuming, with all that cutting and decorating. She had a point. Not to mention, they didn’t hold up very well either. Only a few days after Santa put his cooties on my Christmas cookies, they weren’t much good anyway. So, I decided to make a sugar cookie that was crazy good, super simple, chewy, and a blank canvas for most anything you wanted to put in it. It’s your call whether to leave them out for Santa. I don’t.
Six-Way Chewy Sugar Cookies
(one basic dough makes six different cookies)
yields 48 cookies
What You Need:
For My Original Sugar Chewies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
2 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons milk
Decorative sugar sprinkles or turbinado sugar
What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and almond extract.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
With the standing mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the milk, or enough to just soften the dough.
Roll level tablespoons of the dough into balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Use the spoon to flatten the top of each ball slightly and brush on just enough milk to moisten. Sprinkle with decorative sugar sprinkles or turbinado sugar.
The Other 5 Ways!
Substitute 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract (page 198) for the S&V House Blend Almond Extract. Whisk 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper into the flour mixture before adding to the butter mixture. Moisten the tops of the cookies with milk and sprinkle with a simple cinnamon-sugar mixture (2 teaspoons cinnamon mixed with 4 tablespoons sugar) before baking.
Add 1⁄16 teaspoon store-bought spearmint extract,
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves, and 1 teaspoon grated lime zest to the butter mixture just before adding the flour mixture.
Coconut Sugar Chewies
Substitute 1⁄2 teaspoon store-bought coconut extract for the S&V House Blend Almond Extract. Fold 1⁄2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes into the flour mixture before adding to the butter mixture.
Citrus Crush Chewies
Substitute 1 teaspoon orange extract plus 1⁄4 teaspoon lemon extract (both page 199) for the S&V House Blend Almond Extract. Add 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, lemon zest, or grapefruit zest (or any mixture of the three) to the butter mixture.
Lavender Sugar Chewies
Stir 1 tablespoon crushed dried organic lavender into the flour mixture before adding to the butter mixture.