Category Archives: essential baking repertoire

Essential Baking Repetoire: Chewy Sugar Cookies

I told you that my favorite sugar cookie recipe of all time was coming up, and now I'm finally delivering. This chewy sugar cookie recipe is one that I hold absolutely dear to my heart. It was one of the first cookies that I made successfully when I was in middle/high school, and everyone that tried it loved it. Just loved it. I made dozens and dozens of them for my family and friends, and they were always gobbled up with delight. To this day, my ex still asks me to make him these cookies heh. Of course, I'm not going to pretend that I invented some amazing recipe because I was a child baking prodigy. But it is different from the most popular sugar cookies that you'll find when you google "chewy sugar cookies". Admittedly, it is based on the recipe found here, one of the first entries on google. What I did, however, was to adapt the recipe to suit my family's Asian tongue.

As some you might know, Asians usually don't have much of a sweet tooth, especially when it comes to things like cookies and cakes. When I wanted to bake something at home, I wanted to make sure that my parents were going to eat it – that's part of the joy of baking! For one thing, they didn't like chocolate chip cookies much, because it was too sweet for them. So when I came around to making sugar cookies, the first thing I was quick to reduce was the sugar. Out of guilt, I also reduced the butter in the recipe (it's a little shocking how much the recipe calls for…). But I keep all the other ingredients at the same proportions, and add some almond extract for aroma. I love combining vanilla and almond extracts in my baking – it gives everything that little something extra. It's funny, because I didn't really understand the science of baking when I was younger, so I didn't really think about how altering the proportions of sugar and butter can really change the texture of the cookie. As a matter of fact, a few times I went back to the recipe to make cookies for some friends, and figured I'd go for the full sugar and butter content, only to end up with surprisingly disappointing cookies that didn't have that incredible chew I always liked. For the longest time I couldn't understand why, but now I finally do. It's a real relief.

These cookies have a really satisfying chew that doesn't go away after a day. In fact, they stay just the way they are for nearly a week, if you can keep them around that long hehe. I like to make the whole batch of dough and just bake half of it for about 3 dozen cookies, then freeze the rest for quick and easy cookies when I want them. These are not the cookie cutter sugar cookies that you'd want for decorating, they're best for just eating :) So now I'm sharing my absolute favorite sugar cookie recipe with you, I hope you'll like it!

Lucy's Favorite Chewy Sugar Cookies  (makes 5-6 dozen 2" cookies)      Adapted from Robbie's recipe

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt (use 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter)
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:
1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

2. In another bowl, cream softened butter with sugar until fluffy. Add one egg at a time and stir until incorporated. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.

3. Gradually add the flour mixture into the batter, stirring until well-mixed. Don't be afraid to stir it a lot. (Stirring the dough well will develop the gluten in the flour, which is important for chewy cookies!) When everything is incorporated, the dough will be heavy and slightly sticky. Cover it up and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When the dough is done chilling, scoop out balls of dough about the diameter of a quarter, and place them on foil-lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart from one another. 

5. Grease the bottom of a flat glass and gently flatten the dough balls until they are small discs about 1/3 inch thick. This will help your cookies spread evenly instead of mounding in the middle.

6. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are just very slightly starting to become a golden-brown. Immediately remove from oven and let sit on the cookie sheet to finish baking for another 2 minutes. While cookies are still warm, remove from foil using a spatula and finish cooling on a cooling rack. They will be perfectly chewy starting from the moment they are cool enough to eat, until they are all gone :)

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Essential baking repertoire: Chocolate chip toffee blondies

Although I strive to bake interesting and creative items when I can, there are certain classic baked goods that I want to make sure I've made at least once and succeeded at, if only to be able to whip out a simple dessert for a backyard BBQ somewhere down the road. I don't know how it happened, but I've never baked blondies before, even though I've eaten them countless times. And since I've changed my blog tagline to "everything tastes better homemade", well I'd better practice what I preach!

Blondies, like chocolate chip cookies and brownies, deserve a spot in every kitchen's recipe box. That's why I'm creating a new category of posts called "Essential baking repertoire" (or EBR for short) – nothing fancy, just simple, tried and true recipes that I can always turn to when I want something that is sure to please every time. So often food bloggers are so busy churning out new and innovative recipes that the traditional ones get left behind because they might seem "boring". But sometimes all I want is a good recipe for a no-frills, common dessert. Anyway, I'll slowly try and build up this category of posts (my favorite sugar cookie recipe is probably coming soon). I haven't decided if any other recipes I've posted thus far should be included. If you have any such recipes to share, or suggestions for things you'd like to see, please let me know! :)

So then, the main event of this week's baking was the blondie – sort of like a chocolate chip cookie in bar form. I have seen a zillion different variations of the blondie, some with coconut, some with white chocolate chips, some with nuts. I found my blondie EBR recipe on Allrecipes.com, one of my favorite places to go. A recipe site that has lots of reviewers is always useful in determining if a recipe will be a winner or a dud. The recipe calls for walnuts, which I omitted due to lack of availability (and also because I don't think traditional blondies should have nuts in them), and chocolate chips, for which I used half chocolate chips and half toffee chips, since I was low on chocolate chips. Other than that I followed the recipe down to the word, and boy does it make a sinfully chewy blondie…

Chocolate Chip Toffee Blondies  (makes about 16 small squares)              original recipe at Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips of your choice (I prefer milk chocolate here)
1/3 cup English toffee bits

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Melt butter. Allow to cool briefly, and stir in brown sugar. Beat egg separately, and add to butter and sugar mixture. Stir in vanilla and mix well to get a creamy batter.

4. Gradually stir in flour mixture with the batter until well-mixed. Fold in most of the chocolate chips and toffee bits, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the blondies (or you can just add extra for the top).

5. Spread the batter evenly into an 8×8 inch baking pan (I used an 8" round pan because I don't have a small square pan). Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips and toffee bits on top of the batter if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is a light golden color and edges are crinkly and pulling away from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

Note: Recipe can be doubled to fit a 9×13 inch baking pan.

P.S. These are best the day after you bake them (they're a little bit gooey right out of the oven), so plan ahead and bake these the night before :)


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