Butter Cookies with Four Variations
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
These simple, old-fashioned cookies are nice to have on hand for the holidays; the shaped dough will keep in the refrigerator for two days or in the freezer for a month. The variations suggested here are just the beginning—any kind of nut or dried or candied fruit is worth a try. Add about 2/3 cup, and keep the pieces small for neat slicing.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, sifted
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, sifted
Large pinch of salt
Flavor additives of your choice (see below)
1. Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until creamy and well blended.
2. Gradually mix in the flour and salt. Pulse or stir until just blended; do not overmix (the dough will be soft).
3. Stir in flavor additives. See the four variations below.
4. Divide dough into two parts. Using plastic wrap or parchment to shape the dough, roll each part into a cylinder about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the rolls on a flat baking sheet or tray. For square cookies, gently tap the cylinders to flatten the sides. Chill the rolls for an hour, or place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
At this point the chilled cookie dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 48 hours or in the freezer for up to a month.
5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let the frozen dough sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then remove the wrapping and slice into 1/4-inch rounds or squares. Place the cookies on ungreased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes, until light golden brown on the bottom and edges. Remove from the baking sheets while still hot and cool on racks.
Four Variations on Butter Cookies
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
Add the rosemary with the flour as you’re making the dough.
2. Poppy Seeds and Orange Zest
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons orange zest
Few dashes of nutmeg
Add the poppy seeds, zest and nutmeg with the flour.
3. Dried Cherries and Slivered Almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup slivered almonds
Add the almond extract with the vanilla to the dough. Start to mix the flour, add the cherries and almonds, and mix until just blended.
4. Espresso and Chocolate Chips
1 teaspoon chocolate extract, optional
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water, or 1 1/2 tablespoons very strong coffee
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Add the chocolate extract and the coffee with the vanilla. Stir the cocoa in with the flour while you’re making the dough, then add chocolate chips and mix until just blended.
Read the original article, "Holiday Brunch: 6 Winter Brunch Recipes."