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Best Butter Cookies

These buttery cookies are not only great to give to others, but they are a gift to the busy cook as well. One big batch of cookie dough opens the door to endless decorating possibilities. The dough is a dream to roll and cut out, shape into candy canes or wreaths, or simply drop on the baking sheet. It's also forgiving enough to allow your children to create their own cookie masterpieces!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 25 minutes, plus time for rolling and chilling
Yield: 6-8 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of butter (4 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Beat butter together with the sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.

  2. Add egg yolks and extracts and mix well.

  3. Sift flour and salt together and add to butter mixture, beating until just combined. Wrap well with plastic and chill until firm (if rolling or shaping).

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  5. Cool on waxed paper and decorate.

  • roll cookiesTo make roll cookies, shape dough into a log and roll the sides through sprinkles. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and bake for 10 minutes.

  • candy cane cookiesTo make candy canes, divide 3 cups of dough in half. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring
    to one half. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll 1 scant tablespoon of each dough into two separate snakes, each about the size of a pencil. Twist together, shape like a candy cane and place on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes.

  • cookie cutter cookiesTo make cookie cutter cookies chill dough until firm (at least 1 hour). Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes.

  • To make stars or jelly-filled, fill a pastry bag with room temperature cookie dough and a using a large star tip, pipe into spiral shapes. Fill with a dollop of jelly and bake for 10 minutes.

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