Monday, January 31, 2011

Sistine Chapel Sugar Cookies

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When I was a little girl, my mother would take me across town, every couple of months, to what was unarguably the BEST bakery in town, Lake Forest Pastry Shop.  It was always jammed, and my small self often got lost in the crowd of shirt-waist dresses and leather handbags, some of them bopping me in the face!  I can still remember the black-and-white tiled floor, the icing-scented, hair-netted ladies behind the counter, and the heady aroma of freshly baked pastry when I walked in the door.  As a child of eight, my line of sight was in perfect alignment with the pastries in the glass cases.  I'd put my hands on the glass (I'll bet the shopkeepers just LOVED that!) and peer inside just longing for one of their very big, very delicious sugar cookies.  My mother generally bought coffee cakes and stollens (Stollen?!  I never did quite get that name as a child, I still don't.), but what I wanted most were the cookies.  I wasn't deprived, she did get one for me on occasion, but generally my hands needed to be free for carrying one of the many white boxes tied with twine out to the car for the long drive home.

Ever since then I've been tampering with sugar cookie recipes in an attempt to recreate what I considered to be the Sistine Chapel of sugar cookies.  Okay, as a kid, I did not know what the Sistine Chapel was, but you get the idea: the sugar cookie to end all sugar cookies.  The cookie that took me back to that little bakeshop frequented in my youth.

A couple of years ago I did it, and I'm sharing this recipe with you.  Crispy on the outside, puffed and tender on the inside, with a complex yet comforting light citrus and vanilla flavor, this is my "go to" cookie when I'm nostalgic for that sweet taste of my youth.
Sistine Chapel Sugar Cookies

1½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. butter, room temperature
½ c. Crisco
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2½ c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
Sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together sugar, butter, and Crisco until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, add vanilla, lemon, and orange extracts.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.  With mixer set to low, gradually add dry mixture to wet ingredients.  
For each cookie drop two tablespoons of dough (I use a cookie scoop for this) into a bowl of sugar; roll to coat.  Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet.  
Before baking sprinkle about a teaspoon of additional sugar on the top of each dough ball, this will cause the crackled top.  Bake for 14-17 minutes or until the edges are light brown.  Remove from  cookie sheet to cool on wire racks.  Makes approximately 30 4" cookies.

The additional sugar on top is what gives them their crackled appearance.


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Interesting cookie... I made sugar cookies this Christmas, and I think they were my favorite cookies I made. These, though, might have them beat!


Sheila :-)

Mickey said...

Triple love sugar cookies, I am always looking for the perfect one. Come stop by and enter my first give away!


Thank you Patty for sharing the sugar cookie recipe, can't wait to try it, I will let you know. I also like your childhood story...the best memories are of sweet things. I love sugar cookies and I have some good recipes, but there's this particular one from the "Thomson's Sugar Cookies"... our neighbor when I was a kid and she gave my mother the recipe and now I bake them myself, they come out of the oven and they're gone...I'll take a pic of them and post the recipe too.


Thank you very much Patty for visiting my blog and for the lovely comment on the stained glass...yeah, I'm like you about things like this.

I just went through the rest of your recipes and WOW! I like them all! hahahaaa


Kristin said...

Please add these to the menu. Remember, I'll work for food!

Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

Ohhh, I love the lemon and orange extract in this recipe. I bet they have wonderful flavor.

I'd like to invite you to like up with Sweet Tooth Friday, a new linky I'm hosting every Friday. I hope to see you there.

Kaz @ Melting Moments said...

Oh wow. These look and sound scrumptious :)

Monia said...

Lovely cookies, I'll try them soon for my son!!! Hgs from Italy, Monia.

The Sewing and Knitting Loft said...

I made a batch of these today and they are delicious. Thank you for the story and for sharing the recipe.

MoonLightOnWaterLover said...

I moved away from St. Louis and was so excited to find this blog. I baked these cookies and they were absolutely delicious! They were a bit thinner than those in your photograph but they were delicious nonetheless thank you for sharing!

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

I’m so glad that you liked them! I haven’t made them for a while, so I think this weekend I’ll bake a batch. If yours were too thin, add 1/4 cup more flour.