Before we left on our big fall road trip, Olivia and Katherine mixed up a batch of Chewy Chai-Spice Sugar Cookies from "The Science of Good Cooking". My friend, Ann, bought this book for our family, and we have absolutely LOVED working through the lessons and learning a little bit of science as we cook. Now that we are finally home for a little while (insert big happy sigh!), the girls had a chance to bake and enjoy eating the cookies.
Chewy Chai-Spice Sugar Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies
2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) plus 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees (that's 180 C for you folks who use the metric system). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
Place 1 1/2 cups sugar, spices, and cream cheese in a large bowl. Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow dish and set aside. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft, homogenous dough forms.
Working with 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll into balls. Working in batches, roll half of dough balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough balls. Using bottom of greased measuring cup (we like using a patterned antique cup or cutting out shapes instead), flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle tops of cookies evenly with sugar remaining in shallow dish, using 2 teaspoons for each baking sheet. (Discard remaining sugar.)
Bake 1 sheet at a time until edges of cookies are set and beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating taking sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
The cookies were perfect for tea time (actually, apple cider time) while I read Mountain Born out loud to the kids. Olivia knows I like my sugar cookies crispy, so she picked out the brownest one for me. We love having the library (and my mom's bookshelves) close by, so our basket is overflowing with books about Autumn and leaves and all those good things that we are getting to experience right now.
Some of our favorite books about leaves this season:
"Fletcher and the Falling Leaves" by Julia Rawlinson
"The Leaves are Falling One by One" by Steve Metzger
"When the Leaf Blew In" by Steve Metzger
"Autumn Leaves are Falling" by Maria Fleming
"Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert
"The Leaves on the Trees" by Thom Wiley
"Autumn Leaves & Winter Berries in Arkansas" by Carl G. Hunter
"Leaf by Leaf: Autumn Poems" selected by Barbara Rogasky
"The Little Yellow Leaf" by Carin Berger
"Autumn's First Leaf" by Steve Metzger
"Autumn Leaves" by Ken Robbins
"Leaves" by David Ezra Stein
"Leaf Jumpers" by Carole Gerber
"Flower Fairies of the Autumn" by Cicily Mary Barker