A Sugar Cookie Experiment: Flavored Sugars... Are they worth it?

One of the most beloved things to bake in our house is the plain ol' sugar cookie. We've made all sorts of fancy desserts, but somehow we always come back to the simple pleasure like these. (I've also made enough Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes to have an entire blog devoted to our affection for that simple favorite, but that's a topic for another day).  

Some people roll their sugar cookie dough balls in granulated sugar prior to baking, some in turbinado (like myself) and some don't coat the dough balls in sugar at all.  I had seen a few recipes that call for "Vanilla Sugar," but promptly forgot about it since it is not easily available in my area. (PS: Need a better way to coat your cookie dough balls in sugar? See our previous blog post here!)

However, not too long ago during a trip to Downtown Disney, I popped in to Mickey's Pantry and managed to get my hands on some Vanilla Sugar… and even found some Espresso Sugar!  I had not heard of Espresso before, but due to my love for both of the titular ingredients, I immediately put some in my cart.  

As a side note: Have you ever been to Mickey's Pantry before?  If you have the opportunity, definitely make time for a visit.  They have such a great selection of all kinds of ingredients and kitchen products, you're bound to find something you love. I picked up some other goodies including Fleur de sel and Chocolate Salt.  I'm still trying to come up with something genius to do with my Chocolate Salt!

Back to cookies… The other night when I started making my favorite sugar cookie dough, I decided it was time to see how these fancy sugars compared to more traditional sugars on sugar cookies.  What makes these things so special?

When I opened the Vanilla Sugar, I found that an entire vanilla bean had been sealed in with the sugar right in the canister.  Ooh, this stuff was going to be good.

Left: Turbinado                         Center: Vanilla Sugar                      Right: Granulated (white) sugar 

So how did they compare?  Was Vanilla Sugar worth the higher cost?

We quickly identified the granulated sugar cookie as the least exciting cookie in the bunch. It just did not have the slight crunch on the outside as the others with larger sugar crystals did.

The Turbinado Sugar and the Vanilla Sugar coated cookies really did taste quite differently.  The Turbinado Sugar coated cookie and the Vanilla Sugar had that same awesome crunch from the large sugar crystal coating, but the Vanilla ones had an added a depth of flavor that was missing from its Turbinado counterpart.  

Last but not least, the Espresso Sugar Coated cookie... was amazing. The espresso flavor was strong and noticeable, and was tied with the Vanilla Sugar cookie in terms of flavor.  Very unique.

So was it worth it?  I think so.  The flavored sugars really transformed the flavor of these humble sugar cookies.  If they're available in your area, it may be worth the experiment… Or if you're like me, you immediately begin to think of how you can try to make your own flavors sugars… Post coming soon!