Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Icebox Butter Cookies

Copyright Martha Stewart: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Since you slice and bake only what you need, these logs of dough are great to keep on hand for when guests drop by or for when you're in the mood for just a few cookies. They can be kept in the freezer, wrapped well in plastic and parchment, for up to three weeks; let dough sit at room temperature for thirty minutes before slicing. To help logs hold their shape, chill them first in empty paper-towel tubes.

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sanding sugar (or granulated sugar) for rolling

1.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until combined.

2.Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half and roll each piece into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper, making sure to cover ends completely, and place in empty paper-towel tubes, if using. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Let dough stand at room temperature until soft enough to slice, about 15 minutes. Roll dough logs in sanding sugar, coating them evenly, and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place about 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Icebox Chopped-Nut Cookies Variation: Finely chop 4 ounces (1/2 cup) lightly roasted pecans or pistachios. Sift out fine dust and discard. Follow instructions for the Icebox Butter Cookies, adding chopped nuts along with the flour.

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