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Thursday, December 18, 2008

My New Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe . . .

. . . appeared in FOODday recently. They call it "Master Butter Cookie Recipe," and present variations that can be made using the same basic dough. However, having made just the basic cookie, I don't think I'll ever feel the need to make any of the variations. Buttery, crispy, light, melt-in-your-mouth goodness! I'll cut and paste it here since they aren't always available forever on the Oregonian's website. I'm set to mix up another batch tonight, so I'll try to get some good pictures. Mmmmmm.

Master Butter Cookie Recipe
from Oregonian FOODday, December 2, 2008

Ingredients

* 4 C all-purpose flour
* 1 t salt
* 1 t baking powder
* ½ t baking soda
* 1½ C unsalted butter, at room temperature (3 sticks)
* 1⅓ C granulated sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 T vanilla
* ¼ t almond extract

Instructions

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla and almond extract. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix well.

Divide the dough into two portions and shape into 2 rough rectangles. Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. (Dough can be frozen for up to one month.) [After 24 hours in the fridge, I needed to leave the dough out for a while before I could roll it out.]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Roll one rectangle of the cold dough between two sheets of parchment paper or wax paper to ⅛ inch thick. [I roll my dough on a pastry cloth] Remove top layer of paper. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible. Reserve any scraps of dough in the refrigerator while working. If the dough becomes unmanageably soft while rolling, transfer it to a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. [This was a pretty firm dough; I didn't need to re-refrigerate any scraps at any point during the rolling-and-cutting process.]

With an offset spatula, transfer cutouts to a baking sheet, spacing at least a ½ inch apart. Bake until just set and very lightly browned on the edges, 10 to 11 minutes. [I baked a little longer, 14 minutes on insulated sheets, until they were golden around the edges and on the verge of coloring more. Divine browned-butter flavor!] Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining rectangle of cold dough. Combine reserved dough scraps and repeat all steps.

Edited to add: Here are some pictures I snapped from my second try with the recipe. I made two batches, tinting one with red gel food coloring before adding the flour (I always add the coloring then, to insure against overbeating while trying to mix color into a thick, floury dough). I omitted the almond extract in the white batch, and replaced it with 1/4 t peppermint extract in the red/pink batch (I didn't want the almond to fight with the peppermint in the candy canes). I topped the mint cookies with ground peppermint candies, which melted in the oven, making extra-crispy mint tops. These cookies are divine. I call the minty ones buttermints, because they are buttery vanilla-y luscious, not very strongly minty. They were a huge hit at the party I took them to this evening.




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