And now Butter Cookies

Yesterday I promised I would share the butter cookie recipe I made this past weekend. It is so good I think I am going to have to slap some hands around here so that there will be cookies left for next weekend. The way they are disappearing I think waistlines are in real peril.

Iced with Ganache, Sandwich cookies in container

We subscribed to Taunton’s Fine Cooking magazine for years. They are shelved on our cookbook shelf with the spines out so when we are looking for a recipe category we can skim easily. Since I was looking specifically for cookies I quickly looked at all December issues and was rewarded by one that said “Christmas Cookies.” This was the December 1995/January 1996 issue No. 12. The Basic Butter Cookie Dough in this issue proved to be the best butter cookie recipe I have ever made. There is not much else to say. Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Basic Butter Cookie Recipe

“This dough works great for a marathon cookie-baking session because it allows for variations of shape and flavor.” Yields 6 dozen 2″ cookies.

8 oz. (16 Tbls.) unsalted butter, softened

1 C. confectioner’s sugar, sifted after measuring

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract (I left this out but depends on your taste)

2 1/3 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter and the sugar together until well blended.  Add the vanilla and (almond) extract. Sift the flour with the salt; gradually add the flour to the butter mixture until you have a firm but silky dough that does not stick to your hands.  If necessary, add more flour a little at a time until you’ve reached the right consistency. (I never had to do this, the dough was perfect!) Chill the dough for at least an hour before rolling and shaping.

Variations on the Basic Dough:

For a nutty flavor, omit the almond extract and add I C. toasted chopped Hazelnuts to the dough.

For a cardamom flavored cookie, omit the almond extract and add 1/2 tsp ground cardamom to the dough.

Cutting out shapes

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Divide the dough in half. Roll each piece between sheets of wax paper to about 1/4″ thick. Press the dough with cookie cutters.  Reroll the scraps and cut more shapes. Repeat with the second half of dough.

Bake until they turn light brown, 10 -12 minutes. (I went 8 – 10 because they were getting overly brown in my oven.) Remove immediately and put on wire rack to cool.

Just out of the oven

For Sandwich Cookies: Roll the dough about 1/8″ thick. Cut a round or shaped hole in one half of the cookies. When cookies are cooled, spread the whole cookie with ganache or fruit preserves. Press on top a cookie with a cut-out center.

Ganache: Yields 1 C., enough for 30 2″ sandwich cookies

1/2 C. heavy cream

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Bring the cream to a full boil, transfer to a bowl, and cool for a minute. Pour the chocolate onto the hot cream and mix with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted. The ganache will thicken to a spreading consistency as it cools.

I didn’t get too fancy with my decorations as you can see but I haven’t had any complaints. I discovered that coconut and almonds stick nicely to the ganache so I am sure you can use sprinkles and fruit as well. You may also notice that my shapes aren’t too Christmasy. Well I like moons and star and circles and cats. Cookies taste the same whatever shape you use.

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