The hallmark of a standout sugar cookie is satisfying chew. But sugar cookie recipes can be surprisingly fussy: If the butter temperature isn’t just right or the measurements are a bit off, the resulting cookies are brittle. We wanted an approachable recipe for great sugar cookies that anyone could make. Knowing that the right proportions of saturated and unsaturated fats can enhance chewiness (for more information on this, see here and here), we replaced some of the butter in the recipe with oil. The cookies had good chew but they were cloying. To mitigate the sweetness, we added an unconventional ingredient: cream cheese. A small amount contributed a slight tang that provided the perfect counterpoint to the sugar without compromising the cookie’s texture. As a bonus, its acidic presence enabled us to include baking soda as an additional leavener, which gave the cookies a beautiful crackly surface. The final dough will be slightly softer than most cookie doughs. For the best results, handle the dough as briefly and as gently as possible; overworking the dough will result in flatter cookies.
- Yield: 24 Cookies
- 2¼ cups (11¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups (10½ ounces) sugar, plus ⅓ cup for rolling
- 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
- 0.33 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.
- Place 1½ cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Whisk in warm melted butter (some lumps of cream cheese will remain). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Whisk in egg, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Using rubber spatula, fold in flour mixture until soft, homogeneous dough forms.
- Spread remaining ⅓ cup sugar in shallow dish. Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into balls, then roll in sugar to coat; space dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Using bottom of greased dry measuring cup, press each ball until 3 inches in diameter. Using sugar left in dish, sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar over each sheet of cookies; discard extra sugar. (Raw cookies can be frozen for up to 1 month; bake frozen cookies in 350-degree oven for 17 to 22 minutes.)
- Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are set and beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.