Cookies soft like a cloud… crème fraîche cloudsNovember 19, 2006
I’m all about a cookie’s taste. I don’t care for those fussy, frosting-laden creations, even if the resultant cookie is beautiful enough to merit hanging on our bathroom’s walls. Give me a humble, tasty cookie any day.
Well, these cookies fill the bill. They’re humble… little dollops of drop cookie that take abstract shape depending on the shape of your spoon and the tilt of your oven rack. Their only attempt to fit in at a fancy-dress party is an optional sprinkling of colored sugar over their uneven, pillowy tops. And they’re tasty; they have a wonderful, springy, cake-like texture and subdued sweetness that is complemented by a breath of nutmeg. They’re beautiful, moist and slightly spicy cookies that can be devoured by the fistful.
My mom always made these sour cream sugar cookies around Christmas time (they were then sprinkled with the obligatory red and green colored sugar), using a recipe drawn from a much dog-earred and crumbling, hand-written local cookbook. Once my husband tasted these cookies, he became a huge fan and would demand that I make them whenever we had sour cream, sugar, eggs, flour and nutmeg on hand. Which is not an infrequent occurrence.
Now my husband has found a way to expand that ingredient list to include crème fraîche, meaning that cookies can be in his future on an even more frequent basis. Bonus: He’s learned to make them himself. Not that I’m complaining… I may like these cookies even more than he does. You will, too, if you try them!
I’m sometimes a thief. Well, I’m not the sneaky cat burglar type. I’m just not that agile and have a slight fear of heights. Also I can’t work a glass cutter or know which wire to cut to make the Federal Reserve’s sophisticated security system turn off. As a result, I’m stuck stealing ideas, cooking ideas. I take ideas from one place and steal them to make them a bit different for my own devious purposes of culinary world domination. I consider this one of those times I’ve snuck into the Louver to paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
Because, as I said when it came to beef noodle casserole, there are a handful of things my wife makes that I don’t even touch because she does them so well. Until now, her sour cream cookies are one of those recipes. I refer to them as “Mouth Pillows” as they are so soft in the mouth. My wife’s cookies are also so perfectly sweet that I could eat a dozen of them and still want more.
Yet, last week, a commenter, teb, when asking about butternut squash soup being garnished with crème fraîche, was concerned about what else to use the crème fraîche in so as not to waste it. This made me think about quick ways to put it into something while featuring it and use it up completely. My immediate thought was as a sour cream replacement and to make these cookies.
The results I think are very good. They are a bit denser than the sour cream versions, and I’ve adjusted the salt a bit to accommodate the more intense tang of the crème fraîche. Yet they are still very simple to make and really are humble, but extremely delicious cookies. I think they are even tastier since I stole them, and I didn’t even need to do fancy Mission Impossible style wire work to pull it off.
Crème Fraîche Clouds
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup crème fraîche
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
3. In a large bowl or mixer, cream together the sugar and shortening for about 3 min on medium speed. The shortening should gain volume from being beaten and be soft to the touch.
(NOTE: After each step, you should scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula or spoon to ensure that all of the ingredients are being integrated into the dough.)
4. Add the eggs and continue to mix until the mixture takes on a soft yellow hue and the eggs are complete distributed.
5. Add the vanilla and mix for about 30 seconds or until the vanilla is completely distributed.
6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mix. If you are using a mixer, use low speed while adding the dry ingredients. Continue to mix until the dough is uniform.
7. Cover a cookie sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
8. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, place about 8 cookies on the sheet (each cookie is a little larger than a tablespoon of dough). Top each cookie with a bit of sugar (my wife likes to even use colored sugar to make them more festive). Place in the over and bake for 13-15 min. What you are looking for a brown ring along the base of the cookie and the top to have just a subtle browning.
9. Let cool for about 5 min. Eat immediately, or cover in an air tight container. They are good warm from the oven or at room temperature. Either way, enjoy!