July 9th is National Sugar Cookie Day.
Don’t all cookies have sugar? Yes.
But look at three basic cookies types. All are made with sugar (or sugar substitute), plus fat (butter, margarine, oil) and flour, and there are distinct differences.
It’s the ratio of ingredients and the preparation instructions that determine the cookie’s texture (chewy, crunchy, etc.) and butteriness.
Take a look at these three basic cookie types:
Shortbread cookies have the highest ratio of butter to flour. They are baked at a lower temperature, for a longer time; the amount of butter makes them the most crumbly cookie. Fine shortbread should be tender, not crunchy, with less sugar than other types of cookies. Sablés (sah-BLAY) are the French word for shortbread-type cookies. The word means “sand,” to denote the crumbly texture.
Butter cookies have the next highest amount of butter, but the proportion of flour is increased. This makes the dough hold its shape, for rolling and slicing or cutting with a cookie cutter. .
Sugar cookies have the highest ratio of flour to fat. The more flour, the sturdier the dough. The category is typically the sweetest: more sugar. Since it has the least amount of butter, it is also the hardest. Sugar cookies are popularly used for cutting into fancy shapes, decorated with hard icing.
The easiest way to tell them apart is to bite into them, of course. For example, although chewy chocolate chip cookies are typically butter cookies, the harder, crunchy variety may be sugar cookies.
But there are also chocolate chip shortbread cookies! With a bit of focus, you can learn to tell the difference upon sight.
Note that many published recipes get the names wrong, calling butter cookies sugar cookies, and vice versa. But who cares, if you’re enjoying the cookie recipe.
NOW TO COMPLICATE THE ISSUE…
Here are the eight basic types of cookies:
Bar, drop, molded, no-bake, pressed, refrigerated, rolled, sandwich and fried. Take a bite!
 Sugar cookies. Here’s the recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle.
 Coco-Ancho Chile Butter Cookies. Here’s the recipe from Cook’s Recipes.