Saturday, December 30, 2006

Glazed Butter Cookies

Copyright: Cook's Illustrated

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup sugar, superfine -- (5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter -- softened but still cool, cut into sixteen pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese -- at room temperature

1 tablespoon cream cheese -- at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk -- up to 3 tablespoons if needed
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar -- 6 ounces

FOR THE COOKIES: In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the flour, sugar, and salt at low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With the mixer running on low, add the butter, one piece at a time; continue to mix until the mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add the vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until the dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for 2 or 3 turns to form a large, cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto the countertop; divide it in half, pat each half into a 4-inch disk, wrap the disks in plastic, and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes. (The disks can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks; defrost in the refrigerator before using.)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out 1 dough disk to an even 1/3-inch thickness between 2 large sheets of parchment paper; slide the rolled dough, still on the parchment, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with the second disk.

Working with the first portion of rolled dough, cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters and place the shapes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Repeat with the second portion of rolled dough. (The dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and rerolled once.) Cool the cookies to room temperature on a wire rack.

FOR THE GLAZE: Whisk the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding the remaining milk as needed until the glaze is thin enough to spread easily. Drizzle a scant teaspoon of the glaze onto each cooled cookie, or spread it on with the back of a spoon

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