Basic Butter Cookies
Butter or margarine for
Greasing cookie sheets
Unsalted butter, room
Vanilla or almond extract
Glaze or flavored sugar
see note below).
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets and set
aside. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of wax
paper and set aside. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream
the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in
the egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until the dough
is smooth. The dough can be shaped in a variety of ways: dropped
from a teaspoon, molded into balls or run through the thin setting of
a cookie press. It may also be packed into a pastry bag fitted with a
large or small star tip to make "spritz cookies" in the shapes of
rosettes or wreaths or in S-shapes. Leave 1 inch between cookies.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges
begin to turn golden. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool. (Cookies
may be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days or in the
freezer for two months.)
Note: Cookies can be glazed after baking or sprinkled with vanilla
sugar (see recipes below). For orange or lemon-flavored cookies,
substitute 4 teaspoons of grated orange skin or 2 teaspoons grated
lemon skin and 1 or 2 teaspoons of fresh orange or lemon juice for
Basic Sugar Glaze 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 2 teaspoons water,
approximately (see note.)
Place the sugar in a bowl and whisk in the water until the glaze is
smooth. Add water, drop by drop, to achieve desired consistency.
Drizzle freely with a spoon over cookies. May also be applied with a
feather or a pastry brush.
Note: For a different taste, substitute fresh lemon juice, orange
liquer or Cognac for the water.
Chocolate Glaze 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate 1 ounce semisweet
chocolate 1/4 teaspoon vegetable shortening
Melt the chocolates and shortening in the top of a double boiler over
slowly simmering water, stirring often. Using a spoon, drizzle the
glaze sparingly over cookies.
Vanilla Sugar 3 cups sugar 1 vanilla bean, cut into 1-inch segments.
Place the sugar and the bean in a food processor fitted with a steel
blade and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the vanilla bean is
ground. Transfer to an airtight container and let stand for one week.
Sift before sprinkling freely on cookies. May be stored indefinitely.