Doesn’t your mouth just water, looking at Christmas cookies??
There’s just something about celebrating connection and cultural diversity despite living in a busy world distracted by technology. As you can tell by now I am “that” daughter who wasn’t “the best” in the kitchen. Capture the cooking stories of the “Maw Maw” and the stories behind the recipes have inspired a whole new generation of Buttered Cookie “cookieteers”.
She gets quite excited telling us all about “how to master the butter cookie recipe”. But I warn those who get in her way in the kitchen … please make note, DO NOT MESS WITH THE COOK! Sarcasm is definitely welcome. Have you ever crossed paths with an angry Italian with a rolling pin? Kidding aside … here we go!
If you’ve ever been around my Mother this time of year (or any Holiday for that matter) ask her to sample some of those world famous Butter Cookies. I just found out they are actually not handed down from my own grandmother, but from Evie’s grandmother. You see these cookies are known to our family as Aunt Kathy’s Butter Cookies. The cookie recipe is actually a “German” recipe from Evie Schnieder’s Mother. These cookies have been a family favorite for years. I finally decided to log some of Mom’s favorite recipes so we will have them for many years to come. Remember friends the recipe will take some fine tuning as it was improvised with a little pinch of this, “a sort of spoonful” of that, a whole lot of love and sentimental southern pride.
Here you go “passed on and made with love from one generation to the next”:
1 Cup unsalted soft butter (2 sticks)
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 tsp. flavoring (vanilla)
Sift together …stir in
3 Cups Sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Bake at 400 degrees 5-7 minutes
Roll 1/8 thick cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until delicately brown edges
Reminder Temp 400 @ 5-7 minutes
Icing consists of Confectioner’s Sugar and Water – I use milk I tend to get a better consistency but here again – trial and error – GOOD LUCK!
Photo creds: King Arthur’s Flour
For a improvised recipe see below:
Holiday Butter Cookies from a professional baker:
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, or flavor of your choice (see “tips,” below)
- 2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar or glazing sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons, or up to 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk; enough to make a pourable/spreadable icing
- food coloring, optional
- 1 cup coarse sugar or colored sugar for decorating, optional
- To make the cookies: Combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and flavor, beating until smooth. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. The mixture will seem dry at first, but will suddenly come together. If it doesn’t, dribble in a tablespoon of water.
- Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flattened disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight. When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it soften for about 20 to 30 minutes, until it feels soft enough to roll. It should still feel cold, but shouldn’t feel rock-hard.
- Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour, and flour your rolling pin. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it 1/8″ to 3/16″ thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes. Re-roll and cut the dough scraps. Place the cookies on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. They can be close together; they’ll barely spread.
- Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until they’re set and barely browned around the edges.
- Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool right on the pan. If you’ve used parchment, you can lift cookies and parchment off the pan, so you can continue to use the pan as the cookies cool.
- Repeat with the remaining piece of dough, rolling, cutting, and baking cookies. When cookies are completely cool, ice and decorate.
- Icing: Combine the sugar, milk, and corn syrup to make a soft, spreadable icing, adding more milk if necessary. Tint the icing with food color as desired.
- Spread icing on the cookies, using a knife, a spoon, or your finger to spread it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other sugar decorations, as desired. Allow the icing to harden before storing the cookies.
- Yield: about 5 dozen 2″ cookies.
Tips from our bakers
- If you use unsalted butter, increase the amount of salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
- To flavor cookies in alternate ways, try 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon almond extract, or a combination. For extra-strong flavors (eggnog, butter rum, etc.), start with 1/8 teaspoon, and flavor to taste.
- To top cookies with colored sugar before baking (no icing necessary), reserve the egg white from the yolk you’ve used in the dough. Mix the white with 1 tablespoon water. Lightly paint the cookies with the egg white/water, sprinkle with colored sugar, and bake.
- This glaze is a little on the thick side, and it isn’t perfectly smooth when you apply it, but should settle into a smooth surface within half a minute or so. Glaze one cookie and set it aside for a minute. Has the glaze settled into a smooth surface? If so, it’s the right consistency. Remember, it’s easier to add more liquid than to stir in more sugar, so start with a glaze that’s thicker than you think it should be, then add milk little by little to adjust the consistency.