Tag Archives: sugar

Sweet Popcorn Glaze

Learn how to make sweet popcorn;  This sweet popcorn recipe is quick and easy, and not too sweet.

Sweet Popcorn Glaze from Jen's Favorite CookiesWe are a popcorn family.  I probably buy an 8-pound tub of unpopped kernels at Costco every other month.  My kids sometimes forget that microwave popcorn even exists.  We usually eat it air-popped with just butter and salt, but sometimes I soup it up and make it sweet.  This easy glaze is one of my favorite stand-by’s.  It’s easy, quick, and basically impossible to ruin.

I’ve made this simple popcorn glaze for many a holiday party.  I don’t want you to think it’s just for the holidays, though.  It’s also perfect for basically any occasion or get together.

Game days, birthdays, even summer barbeques are better with sweet popcorn.

Movie days are better with sweet popcorn.

Wednesdays are better with sweet popcorn.

Sweet Popcorn Glaze from Jen's Favorite Cookies

What is it about butter and sugar that is so fantastic?  Think about it.  Did you ever eat something made primarily with butter and sugar that didn’t taste like heavenly sweetness?  Me either. Continue reading “Sweet Popcorn Glaze” »

How to Make Perfect Soft Sugar Cookies

How make sugar cookies;  The best sugar cookies recipes use this secret ingredient!  Learn how make sugar cookies perfectly.

How to Make the Perfect Sugar Cookies from Jen's Favorite CookiesThese cookies are my all-time fav for basically every single holiday.  Seriously, they’re like your favorite pair of black pumps, they go with everything.

Valentines Day?  Heart shaped cutter and pink frosting.
St. Patricks Day?  Shamrock cutter and green frosting.
4th of July?  Star shaped cutter and white frosting with red and blue sprinkles.
Your dog’s birthday?  Bone shaped cutter and make the frosting your dog’s favorite color.

Wait, dog’s don’t see in color.  Or is that horses?

While these are popular at any holiday, at our house, they are an inarguable MUST at Christmas.

Over the years, I have taken my mother’s long-time favorite sugar cookie recipe, and perfected the details.  These cookies are soft, never crumbly, and the cream cheese frosting is decadent, creamy, but never too oily.  While the recipe itself is heavenly, it is the process that makes them absolutely perfect.

How to Make the Perfect Soft Sugar Cookies from Jen's Favorite Cookies

And so, it is the process I’ll be discussing today.  Below are your rules for making the perfect soft sugar cookies, the ones your friends will remember for years and years.  (Mine do.)

RULE #1: Follow the recipe exactly.

Those of you who do more cooking than baking may need to be reminded that when baking, you must measure.  You must be precise.  You don’t add flour until it looks about right, you add the exact amount of flour called for.

While normally I respect the choice of anyone to use butter or shortening more or less interchangeably, in this case, I strongly strongly recommend you use the shortening.  My apologies to the Europeans who can’t find the stuff.  Butter melts easier, which means your cookies will spread more, the consistency will change, and they may not turn out as well as hoped.  If you absolutely must use butter, honestly, you might want to scour the interwebs for a recipe that calls for butter.

My very favorite thing about this recipe, the secret ingredient if you will, is the sour cream.  It is the secret to success.  Sour cream makes these cookies so soft and creamy, they are even amazing to eat frozen.

RULE #2:  Chill the dough for 8 hours or more.

If you ever get impatient and think you’re going to chill for only 2-3 hours, you are going to regret it.  This particular recipe needs, NEEDS, the full 8-10 hours of chill time.  Personally, I chill the dough overnight before cutting.

Chilling the dough does two things.  One is that it gives the ingredients time to combine, time to become one, time to taste even more amazing.  The second is that it changes the texture of the dough.  The dough needs to be cold when you roll it out, and cold when it goes in the oven.  This will make the cutting clean and keep the cookies from spreading too far.

Plus, once you see the finished dough, you’ll know there is no way you can roll this dough without chilling it first.

RULE #3:  Roll the dough on a non-stick surface.

I’m hoping this one goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.

If you are really passionate about preserving the softness of your cookies, you can roll the dough between two layers of wax paper.  However, I normally roll them on a floured countertop.  A WELL floured countertop.  It’s imperative the dough doesn’t stick to your rolling surface, because the cookies will not maintain their shape or thickness otherwise.

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RULE #4:  Roll the dough to the correct thickness.

If this post only had one rule, it would be this one.  This is the absolute, total, and complete secret to well-made sugar cookies.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT roll them too thin!  I find it’s a tendency of most people to roll the dough thinner than it needs to be.  The dough should be thicker than 1/4 inch.  Mine is generally somewhere between 1/4 – 1/2 inch.  Let’s call it 3/8 inch.

If the cookies are too thin, they will be crispy.  The edges will be brown, and have a tendency to break off.  They will lose all of the gorgeous softness that makes these cookies great.

Of course, if they are too thick, they can have different problems, like spreading too much and not being cooked through in the center.

If you are going to take care during just one step of the process, make it this step.  Dough thickness is key.

How to Make the Perfect Soft Sugar Cookies from Jen's Favorite Cookies

RULE #5:  Don’t overwork the dough.

Get as many cookies as you can out of each roll.  You can gather and re-roll the leftover dough pieces, but be aware that the more you do this, the chewier the cookies will be.  The added flour (from the floured countertop) and the added working activates the gluten and turns your cookies into bread.  Which no one wants.  Trust me on this.

Instead of more rolling, I like to use up the little scraps with little cookie cutters like these.  I love these cute little 1-inch cutters!  And instead of frosting a bunch of little cookies, you can make the frosting a little thin (by adding more milk or using less powdered sugar) and just dip the cookies in it.  It’s fun, and kids love it.

Normally, I roll half the dough, and re-roll it once.  Then I start with the second half, and re-roll it once.  What is left from both halves is combined for a third and final roll.  Any dough left after that is eaten raw.  Because this might be the best raw cookie dough in the history of humanity.

RULE #6:  Trust the timer.

This one is actually a little tough, because altitude and some other factors can affect baking time.  I live in Utah, at an altitude of about 4500 feet.  Technically, this is a high altitude environment.  You may have to experiment just a little to get your baking time right.  Mine bake for 10 minutes exactly.  (Unless they’re tiny, then they bake for 8 minutes) Once you’re certain of the baking time, stick with it.

The reason I’m telling you this is that these bake slightly differently than an average cookie.  When I make chocolate chip cookies, I make sure the edges and tops are just ever-so-slighly browned before I take them out of the oven.  But sugar cookies are a different story.  If they get brown, in my opinion, they’re overdone.  There’s really no clear visual cue to when the cookies are done.  Trust your timer, pull them out at the right time, and don’t let them get brown.

How to Make the Perfect Soft Sugar Cookies from Jen's Favorite Cookies

RULE #7:  Make the frosting soft and creamy.

First of all, the cream cheese and butter both need to be soft when you make the frosting.  Plan accordingly.  Maybe when you put the dough in the fridge, it’s a good time to take the cream cheese and butter out, and set the on the countertop to soften.

As much as I love mixing things simply, in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon, to make this frosting smooth, I recommend using beaters.  The small hand held electric beaters work great for this, much better than a spoon could ever do.

You can also adjust the texture of your frosting quite easily by adding more powdered sugar or more milk.  I like the frosting a little on the soft side to match the softness in the cookies.  I find that when I use a piping bag, I tend to use much more frosting than if I just spread it on with a knife, so if you’re planning to pipe the frosting, you may want to double the recipe.

RULE #8:  Store in an airtight container.

Once the cookies cool, you can frost them right away.  If you’re not going to frost them within an hour or so, though, put them in an airtight container, and make sure they are sealed up tight.  Even large plastic zipper bags will do.

After frosting, if you want to use sprinkles, do it quickly.  After you’re done frosting, let the cookies sit out for an hour or so, to let the frosting sit and harden a little.  After that, there are a couple choices.

CHOICE #1: Place the cookies on a baking sheet or tray, in a single layer, (I can fit about 14-15 cookies on a baking sheet) and freeze them.  Once frozen, put them in your airtight box with wax paper between layers.  Then keep the box in the fridge or freezer.  These cookies are fantastic frozen, but if you prefer them at room temperature, take them out of the freezer 60-90 minutes before serving.

CHOICE #2: (The faster choice)  Skip the freezing, and just layer your cookies in your airtight box with wax paper between each layer.  The down side here is that without freezing first, the wax paper will smush the frosting and all the work you did to make them pretty will go to waste.

If you’re going to eat your cookies within a day or two, you can leave them on the countertop with no problems.  If they need to last longer, keep them in the fridge or freezer.

How to Make the Perfect Soft Sugar Cookies from Jen's Favorite Cookies

Is that enough rules?  Honestly, it seems like a lot of rules, but these cookies are sooooo worth it.  They’re just so soft and creamy and wonderful.  I know a lot of people use royal icing or a simple glaze on their cookies (my mom uses a lemon juice and powdered sugar glaze) but there is just nothing that can compare to cream cheese frosting.

I hope you enjoy these cookies, and please feel free to leave questions or comments below.  I will try to answer all questions!

Soft Sugar Cookies
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Soft Sugar Cookies

A simple soft sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting.

Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 dozen
Author Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups flour (+ more for rolling)

Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 drops food coloring (optional)

Instructions

For Cookies:

  1. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and mix well.

  2. Add salt, soda, and baking powder, and mix well. Add flour, and mix just until combined.

  3. Wrap dough tightly in plastic, or place in a plastic zipper bag, and chill 8-10 hours or overnight.

  4. Roll dough to ⅜-inch thickness and cut out shapes. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.

For Frosting:

  1. Combine all ingredients, mixing until smooth. Frost cooled cookies.

  2. Store in an airtight container between layers of wax paper. Will keep best if refrigerated or frozen.

 

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles!  This snickerdoodles recipe is simple and no-fuss.  This classic snickerdoodles cookie will be a hit with any crowd.

SnickerdoodlesI don’t make Snickerdoodles much.  Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against them, they’ve just never been my favorite.  Maybe {definitely} it’s my chocoholic nature.

Robb loves them, though.  {He’s not a chocoholic.  I’m not sure why I married him.}  And with a family camping trip coming up quick, I figured I had better make a big batch of them to take with us.  They’re great for camping, because they aren’t too messy… no chocolate to get melty or frosting to get all over everything.

Plus, they’re classic.  People understand Snickerdoodles.  They know what they’re getting.  There are no surprises and no wondering if you have to pretend to have an allergy to one of the ingredients.

Snickerdoodles

My grandma has been making Snickerdoodles for years, and I got this recipe from her.  Her version uses a cup of butter, and please understand, there ain’t nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I use shortening instead.

The butter enthusiasts are pulling their hair out right now.

It’s just that they are a little easier to bake when made with shortening.  They hold their shape better.  I don’t have to smash them flat with the bottom of a glass like I do with the butter version.  A quick drop of the baking sheet when the cookies first come out of the oven, and they are flat as a pancake.

Just as they should be.

Snickerdoodles

So, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the changes if you want to make yours with butter:

Use 1 cup of softened butter instead of 1 cup of shortening.
Use 3 3/4 cups flour instead of 3 1/2 cups.
Roll dough into little balls to bake, and use the bottom of a small glass to smash them flat when they first come out of the oven.  Then let them sit on the baking sheet a couple minutes before you move them to a cooling rack.

And voila!  Perfect Snickerdoodles… whichever recipe you choose.

butter cookiesButter Cookies brown butter breakfast puffs thumbBreakfast Puffs graham cracker cc cookies thumb2Graham Cracker Cookies

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Lemon Sugar Cookies

These chewy lemon cookies use fresh lemon juice; An easy lemon sugar cookie recipe for summer.  You’ll love this lemon cookie!

Lemon Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a very light lemon flavor makes these cookies a great choice any time!I bought myself a new maxi dress, so I guess I’m ready for summer.

I hope it helps, because this summer is just about more than I can handle already.  My 16 year old is taking summer drivers ed and holding down 2 jobs, which is a lot, considering he can’t drive himself to these jobs, and my summer was already full before it even began.

I’m going to have to get myself some habits to keep it together… like carrying one of those sticks of sunscreen and some lipgloss and sunglasses everywhere I go.

And planning ahead so I’m not writing my recipe posts the night before they are to be published.

*ahem*

The worst part about that is that my first batch of lemon sugar cookies was a bit below my standards. Ugly, too soft, hard to make, sub-par.  It’s a miracle I had time to photograph them!

Lemon Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a very light lemon flavor makes these cookies a great choice any time!

Why does lemon seem so summery?  Some fruits can feel at home in any season, but plain old lemon is a summer as it gets.

The lemon flavor in this cookie is subtle.  I personally think it’s perfect the way it is, but if you like a little extra lemoney kick, you can whip up some lemon glaze by mixing powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Just drizzle it over the top.

Lemon Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a very light lemon flavor makes these cookies a great choice any time!

I love that freshness that the lemon flavor gives.  These cookies are just perfect for a summer picnic, barbecue, or potlock.  There’s nothing about them that melts or that has an overpowering flavor.

By the way, these are great with other citrus flavors, too.  I have made these with fresh oranges and with fresh limes as well.  Maybe next time, I’ll try it with grapefruit!

Grapefruit cookies and grapefruit lip gloss, that sounds like a great summer day to me!

 

You’re reading one of my top ten posts!
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4.4 from 18 reviews
Lemon Sugar Cookies
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A sugar cookie with a light lemon flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: cookies
Serves: 5 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 3-4 T.) (*see notes)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 cups flour
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add lemon juice, salt, soda, and baking powder and mix well.
  3. Add flour and mix until combined. Dough should be thick and crumbly.
  4. Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Notes
This cookie has a VERY mild lemon flavor. Do NOT add extra lemon juice, or it will affect the texture of the cookie. For a stronger lemon flavor, add the zest of one lemon, or ½ teaspoon of lemon extract. You can also add a simple glaze made with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

 If you enjoy this recipe, you might also enjoy:

Lemon Lavender Shortbread from Pastry Affair
Glazed Lemon Cookies from Cooking Classy
Meltaway Lemon Cookies from The Novice Chef

lemon cookies

Chocolate Cherry Sugar Cookies

These are not your momma’s sugar cookies.  Chocolate cookies with small inlaid cherry cookie hearts are so cute, and perfect Valentine cookies.

sugar cookiesIs it just me or are all movies the same?  I’ve been lamenting {in a very vocal and incessant way} about how predictable and boring I find almost every single movie.

What?!  Are you telling me you didn’t know that Iron Man and Captain America would set aside their differences and learn to work together {in an hour long fight scene} for the good of the country?

Or that Cat Woman would turn out to be just misunderstood?

Or that Katniss and Peeta would both return home?

Robb has been very sweet and trying hard to find some movies I would enjoy more.  He went to the public library and came home with a handful of videos, proudly announcing that there were no guns in any of them.valentine cookies

To be clear, presence/absense of guns is not the yardstick I’m using.  It’s more like presence/absence of plot or interesting characters.

For instance: Bella from Twilight is NOT an interesting character.  And Avengers does NOT have an interesting plot.  My theory is that men watch Avengers to get their superhero fix, and women watch it so they can stare at Thor.

You did it, too.  Admit it.

One of the movies Robb checked out was The Secret Life of Bees.  This movie had far more interesting characters and plot than anything I’ve seen in the past 6 months.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  When the movie ended, I was smiling, but Robb’s comment was, “I try to pick movies you will like, and this is what happens.”

By “this,” he means the story is essentially a sad one.

valentine cookiesvalentine cookies

What does all this have to do with cookies?  I don’t really know.  I guess you have to be a girl to understand the urge to create a cookie that is cute, involved, and holiday-themed, just so you can eat it while crying through a sad movie.

I will admit that these cookies were a little bit of work, because I had to mix up two different recipes, roll two different doughs, and cut two different sizes of hearts.  It wasn’t particularly difficult, just time consuming.

First, I used this Cherry Cookie recipe for the pink dough.  I don’t even like cherries, but I love this dough.  Then, I used this Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe for the brown dough.  You should know that the cherry recipe makes about twice as much as the chocolate recipe, so you may want to double the chocolate dough or half the cherry dough to get the amounts right.

I also had to go back and forth a bit, cutting pink hearts, then cutting brown hearts, then putting them together on the sheet pan to get the process right.  The best method I found was to cut a large pink heart, then place it on the baking sheet.  Then I cut a small heart out of the center and removed it.  I found the cookie kept it’s shape better if I didn’t have to move it after removing the center heart.  I used the same cutters to cut brown hearts, and placed a small brown heart inside the space in the middle of the larger pink heart.  There wasn’t anything else required to get them to bake together as one seamless cookie.

I recommend eating them with a love story.
Mom Blog to Money Blog

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Spicy Sweet Pecans

Spicy nuts with sugar; This recipe for sweet and spicy pecans is a simple and tasty holiday snack.

sweet pecansThese nuts are a metaphor for my life.

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have kind of a strong personality.  I prefer to see myself as sweet, gentle, kind, and thoughtful.  In recent years, I have realized that some people disagree.

For example, here are some things I have {mistakenly} been called:
Opinionated.
Assertive.
Pushy.
The meanest woman in the church congregation.
Controlling.

Well, that last one might be true.

Even my parents have said that, as a baby, I would scream inconsolably for hours every night, and that I would utterly refuse to sleep if there was anything at all going on in the house.
candied nuts

I like to think that it’s my fiery personality that explains my love of spicy foods.  I actually really really enjoy when the food is so spicy, it burns your lips and the inside of your mouth and throat.  Mmmmm… It’s one of my favorite things.

On the other hand, I’m also known to have something of a sweet tooth.  I mix the Kool-Aid kind of heavy on the sugar, and I like to frost the brownies.  And, well let’s face it, I have a dessert blog.  All this is because I am so sweet and friendly and thoughtful.  I’ve also been called “kind” on occasion.

Look, I’m working on the sweet side of my personality.  I’ve become a hopeless optimist, I work hard not to speak ill of others {it’s a work in progress!}, and love finding ways to be a better friend.  I deserve a little sugar on my nuts.

spicy nuts

And thus, when I was deciding exactly how to make these magical metaphorical pecans, there was really only one choice.

Spicy AND Sweet.

And toasted, of course, because toasted nuts are obviously the very high-end best.

These pecans turned out basically just like me… sugar and spice and everything nice.  I can almost guarantee that the strong-personality types out there will love these.  And the gentle personality types?  Well, they’ll love these too.

Because I said so.

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Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels

Sugar cookie dough infused with chocolate and peppermint and swirled into a lovely pinwheel.

Source: Alton Brown, on the Food Network Site.

Yield: about 20 giant cookies

Perhaps the only flavor combination to come close to the amazing wonder of chocolate and peanut butter together is chocolate and peppermint.  For years I have been telling people that my favorite ice cream is peppermint… smothered in hot fudge.  (Unfortunately, good peppermint ice cream is not easy to come by.  I personally prefer the variety made at the Utah State University creamery, which is, even more unfortunately, only available seasonally.)   When I found this recipe, I was very excited to try it.  It has all my favorite things in it.

You may have noticed that my batch did not turn out exactly professional looking.  In fact, they are downright ugly.  My husband advised me to make a new batch before posting, but I disagreed.  I will, however, explain why mine turned out so weird-looking so you can avoid this mistake.

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