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  • Writer's pictureRachel

The Sugar Cookie Recipe That Nearly Broke My Spirit

Who would have thought–of all the recipes out there–that drop sugar cookies would cause me to suffer a months-long, albeit temporary, blow to my baking ego? Not me, I’ll tell you.

It started like this…

I was eager to make my first Miss Goody recipe. I wanted to taste the recipes my great nana shared with her family.

I figured I would start with a benign sugar cookie recipe. I had all of the ingredients—except for the shortening. No biggie, I thought to myself, I’ll just use butter instead.

You see, I had never, ever in my life used shortening in anything. I’m a butter gal through and through. I didn’t think it would make a huge difference. As it turns out, it did…and it didn’t.

They came out entirely underwhelming. Puffy and cakey but also nearly burnt on the edges and bottoms.

I could redeem myself as long as they tasted ok! But they did not. They weren’t quite inedible, but they were not what anyone would describe as tasting like a sugar cookie.

The addition of nutmeg (yes, your eyes do not deceive you. Nutmeg!) was…a choice. I was perplexed.

How could I screw up something so simple?! Flour, eggs, milk—these were simple ingredients I had used hundreds of times. Why had they failed me now?!

The shortening!

I was certain that the butter substitution was the cause of all of my problems. So I went out and bought shortening. And it sat in my cupboard nearly all of spring and summer.

Sure, I can chalk it up to being busy, I was! But I think deep down I was afraid to fail so miserably again. It was hard to get back on the proverbial horse. I did not want these sugar cookies to defeat me.

So this past weekend I finally pulled out the shortening that had taunted me every time my son asked for an applesauce pouch. I was going to make these sugar cookies CORRECTLY, as my great nana had intended. And they would be delicious.

If you were hoping for a redemption arch in my story, I’m sorry to disappoint you. The shortening did yield negligible improvements. As you can see, they weren't burnt and not as puffy, but they were still deeply incongruent with what any reasonable person might expect from a sugar cookie.

If you want to know what they tasted like, it’s biscuits. Dense, mildly flavored biscuits.

I want to assure you, dear reader, that not all was lost. It was just time to get a little creative.

When in doubt, frosting is always the answer

With nothing to lose, I took the half-full can of Duncan Hines vanilla frosting out of the fridge and slathered it all over one of the cookies. To my delight, this cookie had become not only edible but, dare I say, enjoyable?

Buttercream is sweet, there’s no doubt about that. So pairing it with a very unsweet vessel (cookie) struck a pleasant balance.

Are these the best cookies I’ve ever baked? Absolutely not. Did I achieve what I set out to do in making these cookies? Surprisingly, yes.

After all, my aim in preparing these recipes was–and is–to taste the same treats my great nana made for her family and to share them with my own. In the end, that’s exactly what I got to do.

Will I be making these again?

So, following two “failed” attempts at making these cookies, I won’t be making them again. There are certainly better sugar cookie recipes out there.

But I’ve got years of Miss Goody columns and handwritten family recipes from my mom and nana to sift through. I won’t be running out of recipes to try any time soon.

Until next time! - Rachel

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