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Marilyn, The Original Corn Starch Holiday Sugar Cookie article!

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Joined: Jun 15, 2006


Posted to Thread #30538 at 1:05 pm on Oct 9, 2018

I thought the recipe was from Cuisine Magazine but it was from Cooks Illustrated and Marcy Goldman. And surprise, the original 4-page article a friend copied for me from her magazine in 1993 - One Dough, Many Cookies Master Recipe - includes "a dozen perfectly moist and tender variations" and Marcy's pipe-able decorative icing. The attached link includes these variations but not the whole "food science" article. And CI just has the recipes for it's Nov/Dec '93 issue. (Note: I went back and updated all previous recipes to reflect "original")
Some of Goldman's comments: "The quintessential holiday cookies can be easily rolled, molded, cut and handled without breaking, yet retains a buttery quality when eaten. Good holiday cookies should almost melt in your mouth, with a sensation close to that of shortbread." "two strategies work in your favor: the use of extra tenderizing agents in the batter and the use of the refrigerator to firm up the rich, otherwise temperamental dough." "A purposefully rich and short dough, however, braces itself against the negatives of constant working by calling on every ingredient that offers tenderness - egg yolks, fat, sugar and cream - and avoiding those that don't such as hard or too much flour, egg whites and extra liquid." "many (recipes) call for confectioner's sugar which is no more than cornstarch and sugar pulverized together." "Furthermore, cornstarch diminishes the hardness of all-purpose flour, providing the baker with a softer flour without the necessity of any special trips to the supermarket for cake flour." "When in doubt, chill out." "freeze (dough) in flattened disks" "defrost cookie dough as needed; it softens in just about an hour on the counter." "cover the cookie sheets with baking parchment or silicone paper." "darker browned cookies, baked an additional 2-4 minutes, bring out the butter flavor." "Cool your cookies on a wire rack and store them in a covered container - if you leave them out they become soft in a few hours."
Some of Jack Bishop's comments: "Butter is roughly 80% fat and 18% water, plus milk solids. Vegetable shortening is 100% fat. In terms of "shortening" ability, butter is the second choice because of its water content; it's the first choice for flavor, however. The compromise struck in the Master Recipe of 3-parts butter to 1-part shortening keeps the rich buttery flavor while reducing the amount of water and therefore the formation of gluten, in the cookies." Using egg yolks and cream further "helps reduce gluten formation." "Adding cornstarch to unbleached all-purpose flour is an easy way to make this commercial product at home. Substituting 1/4 cup cornstarch for the same amount of flour lowers the protein content by about 1 percent." Unbleached all-purpose flour - "(look on label for a brand with 11 grams of protein per 4 ounces), you can create your own unbleached cake flour. (Note: To calculate the exact protein percentage in any flour, divide protein grams per 4 ounces by 1.13)"

Marcy Goldman, Cook's Illustrated, 1993
For good measure: Having ingredients just a bit cooler than room temperature assists proper blending and results in a dough that is ready to roll. If a dough does begin to get too soft to be workable, simply pop it in the refrigerator for about ten minutes and you're back in business. Chilling the dough prevents you from adding extra flour, which would firm up the dough but can make the final product tough.

Yields approximately 6 dozen single-layer cookies or 3 dozen sandwich cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached recommended)
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
Tiny pinch salt
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons light cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone paper.
2. Mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix yolks, cream, and vanilla together in a measuring cup.
3. Cream sugar with butter and shortening until lightened and pasty. Beat yolk mixture into creamed butter until just combined.
4. Add dry ingredients and beat until mixture begins to clump together (about 18 or 20 seconds on lowest speed of electric mixer).
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and kneed gently to shape into a soft dough. (Can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 6 months). Proceed with rolling, shaping, and baking instructions under selected cookie.

Classic Cut-Outs Makes about 6 dozen 2-inch cookies
Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll to about 1/8-inch thick on a well-floured work surface. Use cookie cutter of your choice to cut out shapes. Using a spatula, transfer cut-outs to prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Coats about 2 dozen 2-inch cookies
1–2 tablespoons milk
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Food coloring (optional)
2–3 drops flavored extracts (vanilla, peppermint, cherry, banana, almond, etc.), to taste (optional)
1. Stir minimum amount of milk into confectioners’ sugar with a small wire whisk or a fork to make a soft smooth icing. (Stir in optional food coloring and flavor extracts.) If mixture is too stiff, add milk in very tiny increments until correct consistency is reached.
2. Pipe icing from a pastry bag to outline cookies or make simple motifs, or simply drizzle on designs. If coating the cookie, use a small metal spatula to spread icing over entire top surface or dip cookie into icing, using the metal spatula to trim away excess. (If mixture hardens, remix with a bit of water, whisking well too make icing smooth.) Allow cookies to dry to a dull shine before storing.

Link: One Dough, Many Cookies

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