Turbinado Sugar Cookies and My Quest for the Unattainable Healthy Cookie

I have a love-hate relationship with sugar.  Whenever I make a couple batches of cookies for a friend, as much as I try to get the temptation out of the house as quickly as possible, it usually turns into one batch for the friend and one batch for me!   I do occasionally try to be healthy, and my forays into baking often lead me to experiment with healthier recipes.  I have dabbled with alternative sweeteners and have a pantry full of healthier flours.  I dream that someday I might perhaps find that magical, healthy sweetener that won't pack on the pounds and the perfect grain that turns my cookies into health food!  My experiments have sometimes had disastrous results: cookies that apparently tasted like tobacco (not that I have any idea what tobacco would taste like, but if you want to know, I'll send you the recipe) and to sweet breads that tasted like spinach (a taste I try to avoid in my baked goods). But this experiment was a definite winner in the taste category, even if I didn't achieve the health factor.  I will definitely be making these Turbinado Sugar Cookies again!

As I delved in to the world of alternative sweeteners, I made a startling discovery.  There are way more sweeteners than I ever could have imagined!  To my amazement, I discovered that people are baking with honey, agave nectar, turbinado sugar, demerara sugar, moscovado sugar, stevia, xylatol, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, molasses and a host of other sweeteners!  And, to my dismay, I also discovered that there is no such thing as a healthy sweetener.  Sure, honey has some vitamins and antioxidants; and raw sugars, being less processed might be better for you than white sugar, but the cold, hard truth is: cookies will never be health food.  Despite that, I know I will continue to experiment until I find the healthiest, tastiest versions of those unhealthy foods I love so much!  Besides, why limit myself to one form of sugar when there are so many other sweeteners to choose from!

Turbinado sugar is a less refined product of sugar cane.  Yes, it's still processed, but not as much.  And since the sugar crystals are larger and retain more moisture, your baked goods will be moister.  Turbinado sugar has a slight molasses flavor, and this fantastic sugar makes the star ingredient in these amazing turbinado sugar cookies!  As I pulled together the ingredients, I promised myself I would only eat one of these cookies as a taste test and only after they were all baked and cooled...but...well, I had one as soon as the first batch came out of the oven and that was the beginning of the end for me.  I quickly developed an infatuation with these cookies, and proceeded to taste several more that night... and several more the next day.  Apparently, I'm very serious about taste testing new cookie recipes!  

These cookies are delicious, comforting and delightful!  The turbinado sugar makes them moist and tasty on the inside and wonderfully crunchy on the outside.  Even for those of you with the same love-hate relationship with sugar that I have, these are a must-try! 

Mary's Turbinado Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
extra turbinado sugar for rolling (1/4 - 3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. 

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.  

In a large bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds or so until creamy.  Add 1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar and beat for 2 minutes or so.  (If you like sweeter cookies use 1 1/2 cup turbinado sugar, and for less sweet cookies, use 1 cup.)  Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat well.  Beat in half of the flour on a low medium speed.  Then stir in the remaining flour until combined.  

Form 1 1/2 inch balls of dough and roll in the extra sugar.  Chill the dough balls on wax paper on a plate in the freezer for 5 - 10 minutes.  (This will make the cookies more puffy and less flat.  If you like flat sugar cookies, ignore this step and put the dough balls right into the oven.)    Place chilled dough balls 2 inches apart on a baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes.  (I've noticed that different cookie sheets and different ovens can make a big difference, so the baking time could be anywhere from 7-10 minutes.) Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.  Enjoy!  


  1. I am so intrigued by your info regarding the turbinado sugar! So cool! WIll try these soon. Hope all is well!


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