They reminded me a lot of these soft sugar cookies I ate as a child. Whenever it was time for my mom to go grocery shopping, I always wanted to go with her. Not because I was a good kid (I definitely wasn't) but because I knew that the nice lady at the bakery would always give us a free sample cookie! a WHOLE cookie all to myself.
Whenever I set out to make a copycat recipe, the first thing I do is check out the ingredients right on the back of the box. That might seem a bit obvious right? The ingredients list is our first clue.
Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Ingredients: sugar, enriched bleached wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), margarine (palm oil, water, soybean oil, salt, contains 2% or less of: mono- and diglycerides, calcium disodium edta (preservative), artificial flavor, annatto (color), vitamin a palmitate), water, eggs, corn starch, contains 2% or less of: vegetable oil (palm kernel oil, and/or palm oil and/or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil [cottonseed and/or soybean oil]), dextrin, soy lecithin (emulsifier), natural and artificial flavors, confectioner's glaze (lac resin), colors (yellow 5 lake, blue 1, blue 1 lake, blue 2, blue 2 lake, red 3, red 40, red 40 lake, yellow 5, yellow 6, yellow 6 lake), leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), carnauba wax, food starch-modified, whey protein concentrate, whey, calcium caseinate, nonfat milk, polysorbate 60, sodium propionate (preservative).
I know this looks like a lot of technical words but let's break it down. First of all, I know from my own bakery owning days that ingredients have to be listed in the order of the biggest amount to the smallest.
- The first ingredient is sugar. This makes sense because of the frosting.
- The second ingredients is enriched bleached wheat flour, which is a fancy word for bleached cake flour. My first clue! Cookies made with cake flour, not all-purpose flour. No wonder they are so soft!
- The third ingredient is margarine, not butter. This might be a deal-breaker for me, I hate baking with margarine. The margarine might be in the cookie or it might be in the frosting or both.
- The next ingredients are water and cornstarch. Hmm I can't imagine there would be a ton of cornstarch in a cookie recipe so I can guess about how much based on other recipes.
- The smallest amounts are vegetable oil (probably for moisture similar to oil in cakes) dextrin which is a type of food additive to make foods taste fresher and lecithin which is an emulsifier.
- Then we have flavorings, coloring, leavening (baking soda and baking powder) and preservatives.
Now that I have these ingredients broken down, I can go about figuring out how they work together to re-create that top-secret Lofthouse cookie as close as possible.
I started looking for recipes that use margarine or butter in their recipes and came across this sugar cookie recipe from Betty Crocker that looked promising. The recipe used powdered sugar, not granulated. I remember someone once telling me that powdered sugar in cookies creates a very tender cookie. Could that be the secret to the Lofthouse cookie recipe? Worth a try.
The recipe also called for margarine (ugh). So I relented and bought myself some margarine for the first time in my life! I couldn't bring myself to use all margarine so I did half margarine and half unsalted butter.
I then adapted this recipe to what I saw on the back of the Lofthouse cookie ingredients box. I opted for bleached cake flour instead of all-purpose for a more tender and cake-like cookie.
I also added in some cornstarch which helps the batter keep its shape while baking. Almond extract for that typical sugar cookie flavor and vanilla extract. All I had was real vanilla, next time I might use clear vanilla for a lighter cookie.
The batter ended up looking basically like a thick cake batter, which makes sense!
I scooped the batter out of the bowl using a medium cookie scoop but the batter was so sticky, I basically had to remove it from the scoop with my fingers. I plopped the sticky dough evenly onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and put them in the fridge to chill for two hours.
After chilling, the dough is a bit easier to handle. You can roll the dough into balls then flatten them. They should be about 3" wide and about ½" thick. Give a few inches of space between each cookie because they are going to spread a lot.
You only need to bake these cookies for 8 minutes! You do not want to over-bake these or they will not have that soft interior.
As you can see, after baking, the cookies have puffed up a ton and spread out. Let them cool a bit before frosting them with the American Buttercream.
So I ended up testing this recipe and tweaking it about 6 times before I was pretty happy with the taste and texture compared to the original Lofthouse Cookie. I did also try the leading Copycat Lofthouse cookie recipe which used AP flour and sour cream and it was VERY dry. Not bad tasting but the texture was not soft at all.
This Lofthouse cookie is CAKEY, super soft and has a light vanilla flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the sweet bakery style buttercream frosting which I piped onto the cookie using an 804 piping tip and piping bag. Of course, I had to finish the cookies off with some rainbow sprinkles!
I compared the original Lofthouse cookie texture with my cookie and I'm 90% satisfied. The only thing I couldn't figure out was how to get these specific layers. It's almost like the dough has been laminated before it bakes. Something to keep working on in the future.
But as far as the softness, the taste, and the texture, I'm super happy with this TRUE copycat Lofthouse cookie recipe. I hope you're satisfied too. Let me know what you think if you give this recipe a try.
I also have to mention that these cookies made an appearance in Ezra's five-month birthday photo, you can see it on my Instagram.
Want more cookie recipes? Check these out!
- 804 piping tip and bag
- Stand mixer with whisk and paddle attachment or hand mixer
- Medium cookie scoop or spoon
- 6 ounces powdered sugar
- 4 ounces margarine or butter
- 4 ounces unsalted butter softened
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 13 ounces cake flour
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract or real extract is ok
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces unsalted butter softened
- 16 ounces powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 ounces milk
- ½ teaspoon electric pink food coloring Americolor brand
- 2 Tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or you can use a hand mixer) cream together the butter, margarine and powdered sugar until light and fluffy
- Add in your vanilla, almond extract and egg and mix on medium until combined
- Add in your baking soda, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar and cornstarch and mix until combined
- Switch to the paddle attachment and mix in your cake flour just until combined. Do not overmix (or you can do this by hand)
- Scoop your batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet with a medium-sized cookie scoop (or you can use a spoon)
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (or up to 24 hours)
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF
- Roll the chilled dough into balls and then flatten with your fingers into cookies that are about ½" thick and 3" wide. Arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake your cookies for 8-9 minutes or just until the sheen disappears from the top of the cookie. Place onto a cooling rack to cool fully before frosting with buttercream and finishing with sprinkles
- Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze
For the frosting
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) cream your butter until smooth using the whisk attachment
- Start adding your powdered sugar while mixing on low until it's all incorporated.
- Add in your vanilla, milk, salt, and food coloring and mix until smooth.
- Pipe on top of the cookies with a round tip (I used an 804) and top with sprinkles