Frosted Sugar Cookies

Girl walks into a bakery. Girl is greeted by a case full of delectable treats of every size, shape, and kinds. Girl's eyes gloss right over the cookies. At least, this girl's do. Given the choice, I will pass up a cookie in favor of something else approximately 80% of the time. It takes a lot for a cookie to impress me. Your average cookie just isn't going to cut it; it takes something exceptional to snag my attention. Like a New York Times or Levain chocolate chip cookie. Or Joy's oatmeal peanut butter sandwich cookie situation. That means that when one does succeed, you know it's serious.

I've had a lot of excellent cupcakes and brownies in my time, too many to rank. But cookies of that caliber have been few and far between, so I can recall each of them fondly. Two of my favorites are from my college's campus coffee shop. One was a peanut butter monster cookie filled with oats and M&M's and chocolate chips. The other was a frosted sugar cookie, caked with sprinkles.

These are my attempt to replicate those cookies. The holiday season was always one of my favorite times on campus, and the seasonal sprinkles they decorated the sugar cookies with coincided with a notable spike in weekly cookie purchases between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. I just couldn't resist something so quintessentially festive.

But sprinkles alone don't account for my love for these cookies, no matter how fun and festive. In my opinion - and I know this might be an unpopular one - most sugar cookies are just...bland. Not very flavorful, with unexceptional consistency.

Not these sugar cookies. They have the signature sweet flavor of sugar cookies, but a healthy splash of vanilla in both the cookie dough and the frosting add more interest to the taste. Speaking of the frosting - it's smooth and fluffy and spread on thick, thick, thick. (All the better to secure all those sprinkles.) The result is a bite soft and chewy in the middle and crispy on the edges, while the sprinkles add a sugary crunch.

Whether you think you love them or you think they bore you to tears, I promise this recipe will change the way you think about sugar cookies. And no, I'm not biased at all.

- Molly

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp glucose
2 eggs
2 tsp clear vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups milk powder
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Combine the butter, sugar and glucose in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.Scrape down the sides, add in the eggs and vanilla and beat for 7-8 minutes.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add in the flour, milk powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.  Mix just until the dough comes together - no longer than 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Using a 2 3/4 oz. ice cream scoop (1/3 cup measure) portion out the dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet - you should get 15-20 large balls of dough. Pat the tops of the cookie balls flat - wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week. Do not bake the cookies from room temp - they will not bake properly!

Heat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the chilled dough at least 4 inches apart on the baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes - the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.  The cookies should look lightly browned on the edges (golden brown on the bottom) - the centers will show just the beginning signs of color.  If they haven't reached that color yet, leave them in a for an extra minute or two. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before frosting.

Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, the salt, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated. Add another 2 cups sugar and the cream. Add remaining 2 cups of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting. Beat on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Frost cookies generously. Fill a bowl with sprinkles. Place cookies frosting side down into bowl of sprinkles and press firmly to coat.

Cookies adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar; Frosting from Homemade Decadence