When I was in college at University of Illinois, one of my roommates, Dawn, used to get care packages from her boyfriend’s mom (now mother-in-law). In the box, there were always some of these super delicious sugar cookies. Dawn was nice enough to share with us and I loved them! I made sure to get the recipe. Although I’m not sure why because I didn’t really bake back then. It was probably so my mom could make them for me. I totally forgot about those cookies until Alex pulled an old (okay, really old) binder off the bookshelf and a bunch of recipes fell out of it. As I was cleaning up the mess, I saw this recipe and I couldn’t wait to make them. I haven’t had these cookies in probably 15 years! Geez, now I have dated myself. I had to double check the recipe with Dawn because the baking time and temperature was cut off. And, I remember leaving out the cream of tartar from the ingredient list, because at the time, I didn’t know what it was. It must not be important then, right? She emailed me a photo of the original recipe and I was surprised that it didn’t have any vanilla or salt. So, I decided to add them. I also chose to use butter rather than margarine, because, well, it’s butter. Enough said.
So, how were they? Mmmm…just as good as I remembered. The cookies are really buttery, not really chewy but very soft. They are versatile in that you can change the color of the sanding sugar to coordinate with any holiday. Or, even school colors would be cute. Since there isn’t a holiday right now, we decided to go with Sammie’s favorite color, which for at least today, is rainbow. I guess I could have coordinated with the colors of the Olympic rings or support Team USA with red, white and blue sugars. But, of course, I didn’t think of that until now. Oh, well. Rainbow sugar tasted just fine.
Old-fashioned sugar cookies
Yield: I got 29 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature the original recipe calls for margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for rolling)
1 cup of canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, sugar and powdered sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well until combined.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt with a spoon. Sift the flour mixture into another bowl or onto wax paper.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture slowly. Beat just until combined.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight. The dough is very soft, but will firm up quite a bit with refrigeration.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Put about 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough loosely into balls (I used a medium sized cookie scoop) and then roll completely in granulated sugar. Place balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press down gently with a flat bottomed glass dipped in sugar (it should be thick if you want a chewy cookie). Store the bowl of dough in the fridge between batches. Sprinkle on colored sugar if you wish. Bake at 350 for 10 – 12 minutes. You want to pull them out when they look set. There should be almost no browning. They should be very white.
They freeze well in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Source: Adapted from Lois Curran ( My friend Steve’s mom)