I gotta say, I’m 25 and I love sprinkles. On my ice cream, donuts, cookies, cakes. Reminds me of my childhood. Reminds me of Sundays before church when my mom would take me a block over to get fresh donuts at place called Just Pies. Obviously, my pick would include sprinkles. I mean, who doesn’t want colorful sugar bites on top of some sort of other baked sugar delight?!
For as much as I love sprinkles, you’d think I’d have enough for a recipe like Soft Sprinkle Sugar Cookies laying around in the cupboard. Alas, it was slim pickings and the grocery store provided only a couple small containers of, what I would consider to be, the “classic sprinkle” look leaving me with mostly red crystal sprinkles which ultimately turned my cookies pink. Oh well! They were still soft, chewy, buttery and delicious!
One ingredient the recipe calls for that I have never used before is cream of tartar. I have made cookies throughout my entire life and not once added this white powder to my dough, so why now? What’s it do? And what is it made from? Well, curious reader, I’ll tell you!
Cream of tartar, aka potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate, is a naturally occurring substance produced during the fermentation of wine and found inside the wine barrel. Easy enough. In the culinary world it appears to have 3 main purposes: 1. Leavening agent in baked goods; 2. Egg whites stabilizer (good use for meringues); and 3. Creamer- in that it stops sugar crystallization and provides creamier textures to frostings and icings (http://bakingbites.com/2008/07/what-is-cream-of-tartar/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_bitartrate, http://frugalliving.about.com/od/makeyourowningredients/qt/Cream-Of-Tartar-Substitute.htm, http://blog.fooducate.com/2011/01/11/8-things-to-know-about-cream-of-tartar/). There are substitutions one can use, but they depend on circumstance. If you’re baking and a recipe calls for cream of tartar as a leavening agent you can trade the baking soda and cream of tartar for baking powder (1tsp baking powder = 1/3 tsp baking soda + 2/3 tsp cream of tartar). If you’re beating egg whites you can simply leave out the cream of tartar or try using white vinegar or lemon juice (http://bakingbites.com/2008/07/what-is-cream-of-tartar/,http://frugalliving.about.com/od/makeyourowningredients/qt/Cream-Of-Tartar-Substitute.htm). You probably want to avoid adding baking powder to your egg whites or vinegar to your cookies, so pay attention to the proper substitutions.
Soft Sprinkle Sugar Cookies: http://www.thenovicechefblog.com/2013/05/soft-sprinkle-sugar-cookies/
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until completely combined. Stir in sprinkles until evenly distributed (you can do this by hand or with the stand mixer).
Roll one heaping tablespoon of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet – leaving about an inch for spreading.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the centers are set. The cookies will not look browned or cooked, but they are (they will finish cooking while cooling on cookie sheet).
Remove from oven and let cookies rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.