I didn’t plan on these butter cookies becoming a family tradition, but when one pulls out the same recipe each season (switching the cookie cutters to suit the holiday) and then does this year in and year out, it happily turns into a one. So much so, that when this Christmas was filled with unexpected changes and I was wondering what festive traditions to keep, one daughter told me we still needed to make and decorate these cookies.
Throughout the years, we have used cut outs in the shapes of maple leaves, pumpkins, Christmas trees, angels, stars, and hearts. When the girls were little, we decorated with icing and jimmies. These days, we just add colored sprinkles that match the season. For Easter this year, I will make them in the shape of tulips and butterflies and add them to our Easter spread.
Perfect-For-Every-Season Butter Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on your cookie sheets.
Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder and mix well. (Add the flour slowly, 1 cup at a time and keep the mixer on a low speed so that the flour doesn’t go all over the place.) Roll out cookies on surface sprinkled with powdered sugar (sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t…).
Cut with cookie cutters and place on cookie sheet (here is where parchment paper is your cookies’ best friend).
If decorating with sprinkles, add all the colored cuteness before baking (littles may need some guidance in the amount of sprinkles each cookie receives; sparkly pile-ups can easily happen).
Bake 8-10 minutes. We play around with the baking time. If the cookies were rolled out thick – for a soft cookie – bake closer to 10 minutes. If they were rolled out thin and you want a crisper cookie, still bake closer to 10 minutes. If you rolled the dough out thin, but want a soft cookie (my favorite), bake 8-9 minutes. You decide. Also, times will vary…
Hint: If adding icing, make sure the cookies have cooled before you ice them.
The original recipe says this makes 50 cookies, but I usually get 2-3 dozen.
2 egg whites
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine the egg whites, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed (or very fast with a rotary beater) for several minutes, until the mixture holds soft peaks. For colored icing, divide the icing into little bowls and add whichever seasonal colors make you happy.
(Marion Cunningham of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook says this basic icing is good for decorating cookies because it is light and airy and firms up well.)
Food That Says Welcome: Simple Recipes that Spark the Spirit of Hospitality by Barbara Smith; Waterbrook Press, 2006
The featured image is courtesy of Leslie Bustard and used with her gracious permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.
Leslie Anne Bustard takes great joy in loving people and places, whether at church, around her kitchen table, in a classroom, or traveling around. She delights in words, and marvels at the beauty found in the details of ordinary life. Reading, writing, teaching literature, baking, producing high school theater, and museum-ing are some of Leslie’s favorite things. Leslie is the host of The Square Halo, a podcast for Square Halo Books and is developing a book titled Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to the Best Children’s Books. She and her husband Ned have been married for 30 years and live in a century-old row house in Lancaster City, where they raised their three daughters.