By Kevin Williams
Reader Joice asked for Amish sugar cookies recipes, so I thought I would oblige. Sugar cookies are, at their essence, one of the most basic recipes: sugar, butter, flour, milk, those are your essentials. The other ingredients are extra. Doesn't get much more easy than that. Now, how you blend the ingredients, the quality, the baking time, etc, is what distinguishes a dull sugar tasteless sugar cookie from a truly amazing one. There are a couple of types of Amish sugar cookies:
Frosted: I loved a frosted sugar cookie, BUT, to me the frosting overwhelms the cookie and diminishes the cookie's importance. With a frosted sugar cookie both items, the frosting and the cookie, have to work in strong tandem. For that reason, in my opinion, the best of the best sugar cookies aren't frosted. If a sugar cookie is really, really good you don't need frosting (come from me, that's a surprising statement)
Drop Cookies: These are your smaller, drop-by-spoon cookies. These Amish sugar cookies tender to be lighter, fluffier and if the right recipe is followed you are rewarded with a billowy, wonderful taste. If done right, these are probably my favorite.
Classic sugar cookie: Larger, flatter, sprinkled with sugar. The cookies can be fluffy and light or thick and dense.
Which kind are the "best", well, that is a matter of personal preference, but somewhere among the rolling hills of Ohio or the farm fields of Indiana is an Amish cook who makes the best of the best sugar cookies and I'd sure love to find her. It's probably an old family Amish sugar cookie recipe, time-tested and perfected. The cook probably has the recipe memorized and they probably turn out perfect. Perhaps it is one of these recipes, all collected from Plain homes. I'll keep searching....
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed
- ½ cup milk
- Food coloring (optional)
- Sprinkles (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, ,maple syrup, butter (or margarine), oil and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, and beat until evenly incorporated.
- In another large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring until well combined.
- Form the cookie dough into walnut-size balls, and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the balls using the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown.
- Allow the cookies to cool for two minutes on the baking sheets before removing.
- Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies may then be frosted if desired.
- For the frosting: Cream the shortening and the vanilla and 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the sugar, beating constantly.
- More sugar can be added to provide the desired thickness.
- Food coloring can be added if you like.
- Spread the frosting on the cookies, and decorate with sprinkles if you like.
- Let the frosting set before storing.
Here are four more recipes from our Amish365 Sugar Cookie Hall of Fame:
SHAKER SUGAR COOKIES: Honestly, these could be the best of the best. Shaker cookies were very deliberate, a lot of science before their recipes, if anyone could do the best sugar cookies, perhaps it was a shaker cook. Although I'd love to see a Hutterite recipe also. Click here for the recipe.
SOUR CREAM AMISH SUGAR COOKIES: The sour cream definitely adds a depth and dimension to this cookie not found in just a plain sugar cookie. Click here for the recipe. (related recipe: Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies)
5 GALLON SUGAR COOKIES: This is a recipe that comes from the Brethren church and their traditions. Delicious cookie. Click here.
These recipes are the best of the best, but I am still not convinced that somewhere in an Iowa farmhouse or an Ohio Amish kitchen that there's not some aged and experienced cook making the best of the best, and I'll find them someday!