Monday, December 1, 2008

12 Cookies of Christmas: Day 1 ~ Brown Butter Cookies

I am a sucker for shortbread, in any shape, form, or flavor, so when I saw these buttery little babies among Gourmet's cookie favorites rundown, it was love at first sight.

I wasn't disappointed. The only thing wrong with these cookies, and the reason I sorely wish I'd never made them, is that they are so. darn. good. I can't resist them. The texture, the flavor, the smell . . . a trifecta of unbelievably addictive goodness. If I could have only one cookie for the rest of my life, this might be the cookie.

Sounds like a lot of hyperbole, I know. And I don't even care. My hyperbole meter fled with my self-control. And let it be a warning to you. If you make these, you'd better strap on the heavy-duty willpower, because the scent alone is enough to make a grown adult (me, at least) weak in the knees.

Eleven more days of this? I might need insulin.

Brown Butter Cookies

Adapted from Gourmet magazine, June 1961, available online here
  • 1 cup butter (I used salted)

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (I used 1 tablespoon fine sugar with 1 teaspoon pure Madagascar vanilla extract added)

  • 2 1/3 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • Blanched almonds halves or sliced almonds to decorate

  1. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter on low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in sugar and vanilla sugar and remove from heat. Let cool.

  2. Combine flour and baking powder and beat in cooled butter mixture to form a smooth dough.

  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Roll small balls of dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place dough balls about an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press each ball of dough down using the tines of a fork. Top with half of a blanched almond or an almond slice.

  4. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden. Remove from baking sheet after 1 minutes and let cool on wire racks.

~I got 30 cookies from this recipe.

Recipe Notes:

  • I decorated some of my cookies with a cookie stamp. This particular dough is quite soft, so it didn't perform that well for this decorating application, but some came out really nicely.

  • To get the sugar to highlight my snowflake, I just dipped the oiled cookie stamps in confectioners' sugar before stamping the dough. I found it worked best if I flattened the dough ball slightly with my fingers before stamping.

  • I made my dough the night before I baked the cookies. When I retrieved it from the fridge the next day, it was rock hard. It still had not softened at all after half an hour on the countertop, so I microwaved fist-sized chunks of it for 10 seconds at a time. Worked like a charm.

  • If I let the dough get nice and soft before rolling into balls, it barely cracked when I pressed it with the fork.

  • Cookie stamps courtesy of Rycraft. These stamps are beautiful, sturdy, heirloom-quality stamps. If you're looking for a great stocking stuffer for your favorite baker, check out the site ~ they have a huge selection of traditional and unique designs.


Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I love the stamps, and browned butter in anything is delicious!

glamah16 said...

These were very soft. I over cooked mine a tad, but they still are great. Love your cookie stamps.

glamah16 said...

These were soft and crumbly. I over cooked mine a bit, but still a great cookie.Love your cookie stamps.

Micha said...

The stamped cookies look good enough to eat ;)
I'm such a sucker for snowflakes!

Sandy Smith said...

~Shari: Thanks! The stamps are terrific - I'm having so much fun with them. Check out the Web site if you have a chance; I think they have something like 400 designs as well as monograms. And I'm with you - browned butter is magic!

~Glamah16: These were a little crumbly around the edges, but I found that if I left them on the baking sheet for a minute or two before moving them to the rack to cool, they firmed right up.

~Micha: Thank you! Believe me - they are. Too good. I have to get the rest OUT of my house!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Beautiful cookies! I love how these look with the stamps on them!!!

once in a blue moon... said...

your cookies are beautiful! i love the stamp, simple elegance~

Sandy Smith said...

~Once in a blue moon: Thanks so much! This is the first time I've used the stamps, and I'm loving them. I can't wait to experiment with different types of dough. I love the simplicity of the designs too ~ I think they'll look so nice on a cookie tray.

Anonymous said...

These are GORGEOUS! And the browned buttah? Goodness. I'd have a problem not eating them as well. That cookie stamp is terrific....

Passionate About Baking said...

What stunning cookies...& what gorgeous cookie stamps! Brown butter shortbread is a first for me...& entirely enticing!

Sandy Smith said...

~Kellypea: Thanks Kelly! These are still my faves so far. Can't wait to go back and make 'em again! I love the cookie stamps - they're so much fun to use, and they make cookie decorating really easy. :)

~Passionate About Baking:
Thanks so much! Brown butter shortbread was a first for me too, but it is now one of my absolutely favorites. Delicious!

Megan said...

All your cookies are wonderful but this is another one that is caling my name. I need to look for my cookie stamp. I forgot I even had one till I saw yours. Not even sure what it's of. :/

Kate said...

This non-chocolate lover is so completely sold on this cookie. I'm making this soon.

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