The Delicate Deliciousness Of Butter Cookies
Butter cookies are a classic. They’re the perfect complement to a cup of tea and an ideal contribution to a dessert table.
Given their versatility, every pastry chef or online culinary student should have a basic butter cookie recipe in their arsenal.
Butter cookie dough
Begin with the butter and sugar. Cream these two ingredients together until light and fluffy. Then, add salt and flour; Epicurious suggests adding one-quarter teaspoon baking powder as well.
Next, beat together eggs and vanilla. Martha Stewart recommends using four egg yolks, while Epicurious and other recipes call for one large egg.
For the vanilla, either use extract or scraped vanilla bean seeds, as suggested by Jessica Gavin.
When the dough forms, you have several options on how to proceed. Here are some popular methods for turning your delicious dough into the delicate butter cookies you love:
Butter cookies with a piping bag
You can transfer the dough to a piping bag. Gavin suggests using a ½-inch star tip to create pretzel and wreath shapes.
Feel free to get creative. Experiment with a variety of tip shapes and sizes until you get the effect you like. Form different shapes so you can present your friends or family with fun, diverse cookies. Or, simply make them as drop cookies and cut out the time it takes to form perfect shapes.
Martha Stewart suggests using a cookie press instead of a piping bag. Fill the barrel, affix your favorite disk and space the cookies evenly on parchment paper.
If you’re decorating with sugar or sprinkles, brush with an egg wash first.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for between 10 and 15 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are firm, but before they begin to brown.
Icebox butter cookies
If you’re willing to wait a few hours for your cookies, you can also try icebox cookies. For this method, divide your dough in half and form two logs about 1.5-2 inches thick. Wrap them in wax paper and chill for a few hours, or up to five days. The dough can also be frozen for up to two months – wrap in foil if you do this.
When you’re ready, take the logs out and unwrap. At this point, you can roll the logs in granulated sugar, as suggested by 365 Days of Baking & More, or leave them plain.
Cut them into quarter-inch-thick disks and space them out evenly on parchment paper. Now you can choose to decorate them by brushing them with an egg wash and sprinkling sugar over them, or leave them plain.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. They’re done when the edges are firm.
Cut-out butter cookies
Sometimes it’s fun to take the extra time and make intricate shapes out of your butter cookie dough. To do this, the dough should be chilled.
Make logs as you would if you were to make icebox butter cookies. For these cookies, though, you’ll roll the chilled logs out on a floured surface until about one-quarter-inch thick. Flour your chosen cookie cutters as well to prevent sticking. If the dough becomes difficult to work with or your cutouts keep falling apart, re-chill the dough.
Transfer the cutouts onto parchment paper. Cut-out cookies are cutest when decorated, so brush with an egg wash and sprinkle some colored sugar on them.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes for cookies that are 3 inches across, Martha Stewart recommends. Take them out when the edges are firm.
Cool your cookies – however you baked them – on a wire rack. Then, you can spread them out on a tray for tea time or box them up in a tin to give away as a gift.