Sugar cookies are a bit underrated. They seem so plain when they’re put next to a cookie loaded up with chocolate chips or nuts. But sugar cookies are still one of the most popular cookies out there because underneath that plain exterior is a cookie that has some great flavor in spite of its simplicity. Most sugar cookies are made with white sugar and get their flavor from butter and vanilla added to the dough. I really like that simple combination of flavors in a chewy and tender cookie. These sugar cookies are made with brown sugar, so while they’re as simple as their much paler counterparts, they have more flavor than you’d get from your average sugar cookie recipe.
The sugar is the star in these cookies, although they’re not as sweet as you’d expect from a cookie that makes sugar the star. They’re just sweet enough. I used golden brown sugar, which gives the cookies a slight butterscotch note. If you use dark brown sugar, you’ll get a more distinct molasses note in your batch. The cookies are soft and tender without being cake-like, and they have a nice chew to them. Rolling them in sugar (white sugar is best for rolling) before baking doesn’t add much additional sweetness, and doesn’t take away from the overall flavor, but gives the cookies a nice crispness right around the edges.
I’ve made these cookies with half white whole wheat flour with great results. In fact, I would definitely recommend trying it that way to get a hint of nuttiness into the cookies if you have white whole wheat flour in your pantry. I do like the texture that you get from using all purpose as opposed to an all whole wheat cookie here, but the wonderful thing about this recipe is that it a great jumping off point to do a little experimentation of your own to customize them to your tastes. Roll the cookie dough in sugar and spices before baking. Use whole grain flour. Use them to make ice cream sandwiches. But above all, enjoy a good sugar cookie.
Brown Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (any kind)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the flour mixture until dough comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Place sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar before placing on baking sheet. Allow about 2-inches between cookies to allow for spread.
Bake for 11-14 minutes, until cookies are set and very lightly browned around the edges.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 3 dozen