One can never have too many sugar cookie recipes. I've discovered this on my neverending journey to find the absolute best. Because I stumbled on a problem: there is no BEST. Sometimes you want chewy sugar cookies and sometimes you want sturdy but tasty ones for decorating and sometimes you want crispy, etc. Old Reliable (Cook's Illustrated) has taken care of one of these categories: the Chewy Sugar Cookie.
There's a few different techniques you can use to make each batch of these different and just a little alteration will affect them dramatically. Just a little more bake time and a perfectly crisp outer ring with chewy center turns into a full-on crunch show. So tread carefully with the first batch and see what works for you.
You can also press the ball of dough with the bottom of a glass to get the aforementioned perfect crisp/chew OR you can leave the dough in balls which results in a chewier, more raw taste (but it's cooked; trust). You can see the difference in appearance as well.
Personally, I like the flatter cookies because they came out with that chewy, soft center every time. I had family over for the holidays as I made these and they were served warm, fresh from the oven. An instant hit! (They keep really well too.)
CHEWY SUGAR COOKIES
Source: Cook's Illustrated
Note: The final dough will be slightly softer than most cookie dough. For the best results, handle the dough as briefly and gently as possible when shaping the cookies. Overworking the dough will result in flatter cookies.
2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Place 1 1/2 cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft homogeneous dough forms.
3. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each (or use #40 portion scoop). Using hands, roll dough into balls. Working in batches, roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 dough balls per sheet. Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter (or a little less than 1/2 inch tall).
4. Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.