Cookie of the Month: Comforting with softness and sprinkles

Nearly every grocery store I’ve ever entered has had some version of a Lofthouse cookie. It seems to be standard to carry these ultra-soft, ultra-sweet vanilla cookies topped with fluffy frosting in an array of pastel colors, embellished with a finish of sprinkles.

I’ll admit that I’m neither much of a frosting nor sprinkle gal, but always find my eye drawn to these cookies, with an occasional lapse where I buy some. My parents had a fondness for them, too…I can still remember them selecting — out of all the baked goodies at Country Mart in Abilene, Kan. — a package of these cookies, whose melting-soft sweetness was to be savored with hot coffee later at home.

I mean no disrespect to the grocery store versions of the Lofthouse-style cookie, but sometimes they can be wanting. I’ve had some that were all sweetness with no flavor, or too much frosting, or too dry. It can be a crapshoot with any grocery store cookie, because homemade is always best, really. 

I was also inspired to make the cookies because of some designer Fourth-of-July sprinkles I had acquired. Though I’m not a sprinkle gal, I have to admit that there are so many fun sprinkles out there these days, it just begs to make things upon which to scatter them.

Id been thinking about Lofthouse cookies because I found a recipe for them in “Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts” (W. W. Norton & Company; 2017), where author Stella Parks recreates a number of favorite classic sweet treats (including homemade Fig Newtons, which may have to happen). Her Lofthouse-Style Frosted Sugar Cookies recipe (also found online here: https://www.seriouseats.com/soft-frosted-sugar-cookies-homemade-lofthouse), held promise for a buttery, flavorful homemade version of these classic cookies.

The recipe in Parks’ cookbook has you first making the frosting in your stand mixer, then using the same bowl (no need to wash), to make your cookie dough. The glaze is a simple mix of powdered sugar, salt, cream and vanilla. I divided the glaze into two small bowls, keeping part of the frosting white and adding a light teal color to another bowl of the glaze.

The dough begins with creaming butter and sugar with the baking powder and salt. 

Egg whites (key to keeping the dough light) are whisked with heavy cream and vanilla, then added in 4 to 5 additions to the butter mixture, scraping the bowl down halfway through to make sure all is thoroughly combined.

At low speed, cake flour (another light element) is added to the butter mixture to form a soft dough, similar to a thick poundcake batter.

In the recipe in Parks’ book, the dough is piped onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, but the online version of the recipe has you scooping the dough out. I’m sure there are pros for both methods, but not being too handy with a pastry bag (I’m working on it), I opted for the scooping method.

The cookies puffed and spread out to desirable, golden rounds, smelling whole lot like vanilla cake. I waited for them to cool before proceeding with frosting and sprinkling.

The frosting was really light, fluffy even, for a thinner type of glaze. I used a small spoon to dole some out on the center of each cookie and then spread it slightly with a small offset spatula.

Some of the glaze ran a little bit, so I went with a less-is-more approach and used a bit less glaze to keep it just enough to cover the cookies, but not run over too much on  the sides.

I took my new patriotic sprinkles, along with two other bottles of colored sprinkles, and enjoyed flicking festiveness all over the white- and teal-glazed cookies, enjoying a rare foray into the fun of embellishing frosted items (maybe I need to do more).

I couldn’t wait to try one, and I wasn’t disappointed. Far from the sugary blandness of store-bought, these light-as-air cookie/cakes were buttery and flavorful, and the glaze was yummy, too, most likely from using rich cream rather than milk or water. What a treat! They looked so festive, too. A cookie worth celebrating!

For the recipe, go to https://www.seriouseats.com/soft-frosted-sugar-cookies-homemade-lofthouse.

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