Elinor Klivans' Butter Cookies

3:37 PM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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My Grandmother's Butter Cookies
I only know my Grandmother Sophie through photographs, but I think of her and her baking legacy whenever I make these cookies and that is often. My mom used to put a chocolate chip in the middle of each, and I sometimes press a half of a pecan onto the top. Once for Halloween, I used food coloring to make them orange (not my proudest cookie). With or without these additions, they remain the most meltingly tender, most buttery cookies that I have ever eaten.

Makes 42 cookies

Measuring and mixing time 10 minutes
Baking 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas 4 for about 20 minutes

1 cup/225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup/130 g sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 cups/255 g unbleached all-purpose flour
42 chocolate chips (optional)
42 pecan halves (optional)

Put the butter and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed just to blend, 15 seconds. Beat in the sugar until smoothly blended, 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during the mixing. Mix in the yolks, vanilla and almond extract until smoothly blended, 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour, mixing just until it is incorporated and a smooth dough forms.

Divide the dough into two equal parts and on a large piece of plastic wrap, form each into a log about 7 in/17 cm long and 1 1/2 in/4 cm in diameter. Roll each back and forth to form a smooth cylinder and wrap in the plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight, until firm, or wrap aluminum foil over the plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.

This frozen dough would be difficult to cut and should be defrosted in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight before it is sliced.

When ready to bake the cookies, position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas 4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a large sharp knife to cut each cold log into slices, about 1/3 in/8 mm thick. Place the cookies 1 1/2 in/4 cm apart on the baking sheets. Press a chocolate chip, flat side up, or a pecan half in the center of each cookie, if desired. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges become lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Choices. Sprinkle colored sugar or chopped nuts over the cookies before baking them. Drizzle melted chocolate over the baked cookies or half dip the cookies in melted chocolate. Add 1 teaspoon of grated lemon or orange zest to the cookie dough. Mix 1 cup of mini-chocolate chips into the dough.


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