a triptych of sprinkle cookies, sticky toffee pudding cookies and ginger crackle cookies

Snacks & Treats

One Dough, Five Cookies

Nov 24, 2016

It’s cookie season, and there are more options out there than it’s possible to count. If the thought of choosing between crisp, chewy, soft, cakey and melt-in-your-mouth cookies stresses you out, here’s one simple, friendly go-to dough you can do all sorts of things with.

While most people consider rolled sugar cookies or crumbly shortbread to be holiday staples, this is a traditional brown sugar dough — crispy on the edges, soft in the middle — perfect for any number of flavour combinations.

A plate of baked brown-sugar cookies.

Regardless of the embellishments, bake your cookies at 350°F for 12 to 14 minutes, until they’re golden around the edges but still a bit soft in the middle — they’ll firm up as they cool, and you want them to stay chewy. Drop cookie dough like this one can also be shaped into balls and then frozen — when you need a warm cookie fix, set them out on a parchment-lined sheet and let sit at room temperature while you preheat the oven, then bake as usual, adding a few minutes if necessary.

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Basic Brown Sugar Cookie Dough

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until pale and almost fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir or beat on low until almost combined; add any additions you like and stir just until blended.

Drop dough by the large spoonful onto a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 12–14 minutes, until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about two dozen cookies.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cookies: Use dark brown sugar and add 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates, 1/2 cup toffee chips or Skor bits and 1/2-1 cup chopped dark chocolate chunks or chips. Bake at 350°F for 12–14 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Cookies loaded with toffee bits, chocolate chunks and chunks of dates.

Icebox Cookies: Stir in any add-ins you like — chocolate chunks or chips, chopped nuts or dried fruit, grated zest — shape the dough into one or two logs, wrap in parchment and refrigerate or freeze. To bake, cut into slices and bake at 350°F for 12–14 minutes, or until golden.

Icebox cookie dough, sliced and laid out on a baking sheet on a Silpat baking mat.

Sprinkle Cookies: Chill the dough, then roll it into 1-inch balls and roll the balls in a shallow bowl of sprinkles to coat. Bake at 350°F for 12–14 minutes, until pale golden.

Baked cookies covered in colourful sprinkles.

Apple Pie Cookies: Add 1 tsp. cinnamon to the dough and stir in 1 small tart apple, diced, and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans. Chopped white chocolate is good, too. Bake at 350°F for 12–14 minutes, until golden.

Cookies baked with chunks of apple.

Ginger Crackle Cookies: Add 1 tsp. dried ginger and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to the dough, and 1/3 cup chopped candied ginger, if you like. Roll the dough into balls, and roll the balls in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Bake at 350°F for 12–14 minutes, until golden.

Ginger cookies being rolled in sugar.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.