Over the years this has become one of my favorite recipes for sugar cookies. The original version is from America’s Test Kitchen, where they combined cream cheese and vegetable oil to create cookies with chewy centers and crispy edges.
The recipe was perfect as is, but I’ve changed it up a bit by swapping out some of the vanilla for McCormick Imitation Vanilla & Butter Nut extract. It gives the cookies a bit of a yellow tint and adds a flavor people can’t quite pinpoint. Unfortunately, the special extract is not easy to find and you might have to order it. Or just leave it out completely, because the cookies are still great when made with the two teaspoons of vanilla.
Whatever flavorings you end up using, I’m sure you’ll like the texture of these cookies. People often tell me the cookies remind them of the ones from Potbelly Sandwiches.
- 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder, Rumford is my favorite
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
- 2 oz cream cheese, cut into about 8 pieces
- 6 tablespoons of butter
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil, canola or flavorless
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- A tablespoon of whole milk (I have forgotten this on occasion)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons of good vanilla extract
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of McCormick vanilla & butternut extract or Watkins Vanilla Nut (or another brand if you know of one)
- Extra sugar for putting on top OR colored sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
- Put the 1 1/2 cups sugar and the cream cheese in large mixing bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour the warm melted butter over sugar and cream cheese, then whisk to combine. Don’t worry about stray lumps of cream cheese (though I haven’t had any). Whisk in oil until well incorporated. Then add the egg, milk, vanilla and butternut extract. Whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until combined.
- Using a slightly heaping tablespoon, roll dough onto about 24 balls. Arrange balls 2 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 1/4 cup measure, press down slightly — not too much, just enough to flatten the top somewhat.
- Sprinkle regular or colored sugar over the cookies and bake one sheet at a time for 11-13 minutes or until edges just start to brown (turn the sheet around halfway through baking). Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.