Basic Butter Cookies
Aside from sugar cookies and shortbread, there's probably a no more simple cookie than a butter cookie. But like those other two cookies, there are few recipes that rely more on quality ingredients than the butter cookie. Because it has so few ingredients, you can taste practically every one of them when you take a bit of this crisp, clean wafer.
Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies formula for butter cookies offers a few variations on the original, including a straight substitution of brown sugar for granulated white sugar. Baked, these cookies take on a deep butterscotch flavor.
A few notes about this recipe:
- 1 c AP flour = 5 oz because I didn't want the cookies to spread
- The recipe calls for baking 12 to 14 minutes, but this was a little too long for cookies rolled to 1/8" thick. They were best at about 10 to 12 minutes.
- I substituted light brown sugar for granulated, but I imagine dark brown sugar would lend a smokier flavor still.
Basic Butter Cookies
16 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1+1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c AP flour
2 cookie sheets, ungreased
- With the back of a large spoon in a medium mixing bowl or with a mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 1 minute with the mixer.
- Add the flour and mix just until incorporated.
- Scrape the dough into a mass and knead it with your hands a few times just until smooth.
- For slice-and-bake cookies, form a 12 X 2-inch log. For rolled and cut cookies, form 2 flat patties. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- To slice and bake cookies, use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into slices 1/4" thick. Place cookies at least 1+1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
To roll and cut cookies, remove 1 patty from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until supple enough to roll but still quite firm. It will continue to soften as you work.
- Roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper or between heavy plastic sheets from a plastic bag to the thickness of 1/4" inch. Turn the dough over once or twice while you are rolling it out to check for deep wrinkles; if necessary, peel off and smooth the paper or plastic over the dough before continuing to roll it. When the dough is thin enough, peel off the top sheet of paper or plastic and keep it in front of you. Invert the dough onto that sheet and peel off the second sheet.
- Cut cookie shapes as close together as possible to minimize scraps, dipping the edges of the cookie cutters in flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Use the point of a pairing knife to lift and remove scraps as you transfer cookies to cookie sheets.
- Place cookies at least 1+1/2" apart on cookie sheets.
- If dough gets too soft at any time - while rolling, cutting, removing scraps between cookies, or transferring cookies - slide a cookie sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few minutes until firm. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Press all of the dough scraps together gently (don't overwork them with too much kneading) and reroll.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until light golden brown at the edges, rotatig the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Repeat until all the cookies are baked.
- Let cookies firm up on the pan for about 1 minute before transferring them to a rack with a metal pancake turner.
- Cool completely before stacking or storing. Cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day.
Makes about 48 2-inch cookies
May be stored airtight, for at least 1 month
This recipe comes from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies, and is available on Purple House Dirt with permission from the author