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Sugar Cookie: Classic and Gluten Free Inspiration. See Recipe(s) below.
The classic sugar cookie recipe included in this post is one that has been passed down from my grandmother to my mother, then from my mom to me and the grandchildren. The gluten free recipe options have been recent finds as I have had to changes to my diet and actually began to miss some of the cookies from my childhood.
My mom has always loved sugar cookies but they have always been my least favorite cookie. So at first when my diet changed I did not miss them. The biggest reason this has been my least favorite cookie was the after taste baking powder can leave behind when you finish the sugar cookie.
As I got older sugar cookies were more trouble than they were worth. I could never get the sugar cookies to retain their shape from the cookie cutter until I started pre-coating the cookie cutters with something like PAM. It didn’t seem to matter if I made the sugar cookie as a drop cookie or shaped, I was upset of the sugar cookie didn’t come out buttery. My family recipe calls for Crisco. When I tried using butter the cookies came out harder than a rock until I figured out that if I used butter helps but refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes prior to baking to retain softness. The final straw was that no matter how hard I tried I always burnt the edges of my sugar cookies. I felt like a sugar cookie failure because my mom and dad always made the best sugar cookies.
When I eat a sugar cookie I want it to turn out like all the gourmet cookies do: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center. I could never get my sugar cookies to be like this. That is until this year when I tried two gluten free store-bought boxed batters.
During the years in which I was the business manager for a choir I never had enough time during the holiday season to make all the cookies from my youth. I started to keep cake and brownie mixes on the shelf that I could turn into gourmet style soft batch cookies. My favorite was Duncan Hines yellow cake batter. With the recipe on that box I could transform the cake mix into snicker doodles which were always a hit at the annual holiday party my church held.
This year I missed the annual church party because of family crisis. I also missed those drop cookies because I am trying to live gluten free (makes my life less painful). To cheer me up we decided to take the kids in our lives out to look at holiday lights. As per our holiday light tradition we take cookies and hot coco to enjoy in the car while driving.
I didn’t have any drop cookies I could easily make. So I took a gluten free cake batter and made a few adjustments to make sugar cookies. This was the best sugar cookies I had ever made! They ticked off every box on what I think makes a good sugar cookie: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center!! Success!
Then I found out that Pillsbury had an actual boxed mix for gluten free sugar cookies. So I tried that boxed mix. Those were also quite delightful but I found my original batch to be more my taste. So below you have the option to take a gluten free cake mix and turn it into sugar cookies or to just buy the gluten free sugar cookie mix. Either way if your sugar cookie taste is like mine you can’t go wrong. Now if you really want to make a rolled sugar cookie dough then sadly I have yet to find the perfect gluten free recipe.
This year when I made the gluten free sugar cookies I found out something I didn’t know, my mom and dad always looked forward to my slightly burned sugar cookies. While I like my edges crisp they liked their edges slightly burnt but felt they always over baked their cookies when they tried to go for this option where as mine always ended up with burnt edges but perfect centers. Life is funny sometimes with the different perspectives we each have of the same memories.
Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe
Before starting grease your cookie pans (or line with parchment paper). Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2/3 cups Crisco (if using butter refrigerate the batter to retain softness and flavor)
¾ cups of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
4 teaspoons of milk
1 ½ cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt.
Thoroughly cream together the shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Set aside.
Sift together all the dry ingredients. Once sifted blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
Baking Instructions 1: If doing as a drop cookie, by the teaspoonful drop the dough onto greased cookie/baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Baking Instructions 2: If making as a rolled out shaped sugar cookie then wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour up to 24 hours. On a lightly floured surface place the refrigerated dough and roll to about ¼ of an inch thick. Remember to slightly grease all sugar cookie shapes so the dough does not stick to the cookie cutter. Use a cookie spatula to move the unbaked cookies from to the baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Grammy Knauss’s Note: This is a great basic recipe. You have the plain sugar cookie you can sprinkle with sprinkles from store or you can make the recipe a bit different by adding raisins or orange rind shavings (or teaspoon of orange juice) or lemon rind shavings (or teaspoon of lemon juice) or broken up peppermint pieces or anything you think might appeal to you. You can add a tablespoon of peanut butter to the mixture. You can frost them after they are cooked and make cookie “sandwiches from them”.
Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Inspiration
Before starting line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1 box of Pilsbury Gluten Free Funfetti cake mix
½ cup of vegetable oil
Optional Ingredients for Frosting:
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
2 to 3 drops of food color of choice
Icing bag for decorating
Combine the cake mix with the oil and eggs until the mixture is moistened. The mixture will seem a little more wet then expected for cookies. Use a cookie scoop to have the cookies be uniform. Roll the dough in your hands before placing on the parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set. Allow to cool for about 2 minutes before placing on a cookie rack. When cookies are thoroughly cool they can be decorated or eaten as is. Our family enjoys a coating of royal icing on sugar cookies. Right now deep blue in honor of Frozen seems to be the color of choice. Enjoy!
* I believe this recipe is just slightly richer than the gluten free boxed sugar cookie mix. However, if strapped for time, I still quite enjoyed the Pillsbury Funfetti Gluten Free sugar cookie mix.