These are so yummy. They just melt in your mouth. They are good with regular butter; they are better with some high quality butter. I doubled the recipe this Christmas, doing one batch of rolled and sliced and one of cut-outs. I made a simple icing (recipe below) that I coated some with, but not all -- the frosting is so good but the plain cookies are also wonderful!
Basic Butter Cookies
(from Gourmet, December 2003)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Garnish: coarse or sanding sugar; or melted chocolate (see cooks' note, below)
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
2. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer (preferably fitted with paddle attachment) or 6 with a handheld.
3. Beat in egg and vanilla.
4. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
FOR ROUND COOKIES:
5. If making disks, form dough into a 12-inch log (2 inches in diameter) on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll up dough in plastic wrap. Chill dough on a baking sheet until firm, at least 4 hours. (To roll cookies into balls, see cooks' note, below.).
6. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
7. For disks, cut enough 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick slices from log with a heavy knife to fill 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging slices about 1 inch apart (chill remainder of log, wrapped in plastic wrap). If garnishing with coarse sugar, sprinkle slices with it.
Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes total. Cool on sheets 3 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough on cooled baking sheets.
FOR HOLIDAY CUTOUTS:
5. If making cutouts, form dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 6-inch disk. Chill disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
6. While oven preheats, roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining dough chilled) into a 9-inch round (slightly less then 1/4 inch thick) on a well-floured surace with a well-floured rolling pin. (If dough becomes too soft to roll out, chill on a baking sheet until firm.) Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with cutters and transfer to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging cookies about 1 inch apart. If garnishing, sprinkle cookies with glitter or nonpareils.
7. Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, ntil edges are pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.
- Dough log can be chilled up to 5 days or frozen, wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, 1 month. If frozen, thaw dough in refrigerator just until it can be sliced.
- Instead of forming dough into a log and chilling, you can roll tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls, then roll balls in finely chopped nuts (about 1 cup) and coarse sugar. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until bottoms are browned, about 15 minutes total.
- To garnish cookies with chocolate, melt 3 1/2 oz chocolate and cool slightly. Transfer to a heavy-duty sealable plastic bag and snip a 1/16-inch opening in 1 corner. Pipe chocolate evenly back and forth over cookies. Let chocolate set before storing cookies.
- Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp. milk
2 tsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. almond extract
Assorted food coloring
- In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
- Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush (or use a butter knife like i did!)