December 5, 2012

French Butter Cookies

It just isn't the holiday season without someone getting injured, amirght?

My Aunt Ida-- who you might remember as the only person who I will make these lemon cookies for-- broke her ankle. She's okay, but she's in a rehab facility back in Brooklyn. So when I went to visit her this weekend, I had to bring her cookies. Because cookies have magical healing properties, didn't you know?

I didn't have lemons, so I couldn't make lemon cookies (and I wasn't all that upset about it. *whistles innocently*). I know she likes shortbread cookies, but my mom gets her a giant tin of shortbread cookies every year for Christmas. I didn't want to give her more of the same. So I decided on butter cookies as a similar-but-different choice.
I was a little disappointed to find that these cookies are almost exactly like shortbread cookies, except with a smoother texture and a lot less crumbly. But then I ate one that I had cut kind of thick and baked just until the dough set and it was still kind of soft in the middle and I could taste the difference a lot better. And actually, the flavor sort of matures the next few days after baking, so these would work well as presents. You don't have to bake them the morning of for the best results.
So how do they compare to shortbread? They're a little bit sweeter than regular shortbread, but as a slice and bake recipe, I think they're a lot easier to make. They're firmer and less crumbly, and take only 10 minutes to bake. Flavorwise, shortbread's the winner, but only by a nose. Holiday-baking-wise, these butter cookies win hands down.

French Butter Cookies {Printable Version}
Yield: Approx. 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
Approx. 1/2 cup raw or decorating sugar

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together at medium speed until well-combined and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and salt on low speed until well incorporated. Divide the dough into three equal parts, and roll each part into a log about 6-8 inches long. Wrap each log separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll each cookie dough log in the decorating sugar, so it is well coated. Slice into 1/4 inch rounds and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat, leaving about 1 inch between each. Sprinkle the tops with more decorating sugar, if desired, and bake 10-15 minutes, or until the dough is set and the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted slightly from