Basic Country Butter Cookies (and 15 Variations)
BASIC COOKIE RECIPE:
1/2 C. butter or margarine
3/4 C. light brown sugar -- packed
1 t. vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
In large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy; beat egg in well. In small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt; with mixer at low speed, beat into butter mixture to blend well. Flatten dough to disk shape; refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, 30 minutes.
Work with one-fourth dough at a time; keep remainder refrigerated. Heat oven to 350º F. Roll dough out to 1/8 or 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes; or, mold in shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart; bake 8 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of dough, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight containers.
Makes 2 1/2 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size.
Follow basic recipe above, with the variation below:
1. PINK SUGAR CANES: Beat 2 tbsp. seedless raspberry jam and few drops red food coloring into half dough; after chilling, roll plain and colored dough by heaping teaspoonsful into 6-inch-long ropes. Twist ropes together by twos to form candy canes. Brush lightly with beaten egg white; sprinkle with pink sugar crystals. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 8 dozen.
2. CINNAMON-ALMOND BUTTONS: Shape dough into one 7-inch log; freeze, wrapped in plastic, 10 minutes. In shallow dish combine 2 tbsp. granulated sugar and 2 tsp. ground cinnamon; roll log in mixture. Slice log into 1/4-inch rounds; press 2 slivered almonds into center of each. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
3. PEANUTBUTTER 'N' JELLY SCALLOPS: Substitute 1/4 cup chunk-style peanut butter for 1/4 cup butter. After chilling, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness; cut into 2-inch thickness; cut into 2-inch scalloped rounds. Using handle of wooden spoon, make shallow depression across center of each. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
4. ORANGE-CHOCOLATE CHIPPERS: Stir 1 tbsp. grated orange peel and 1 pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips into dough. Drop unchilled dough by tablespoonfuls; bake 8 to 10 minutes. When cool, brush lightly with orange marmalade. Make about 4 dozen.
5. APPLE PIE SQUARES: Increase baking powder to 1 tsp.; stir 1/2 cup chopped walnuts into dough. Pat dough into greased 9-inch square baking pan; press back of teaspoon into dough to make 36 indentations. Fill indentations with 1/2 cup applesauce flavored with 1/4 tsp. each nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until firm to touch. Cool in pan. Drizzle with Quick Confectioners' Icing, (see recipe below); cut into 1/2 inch squares. Makes 3 dozen.
6. MERRY CHERRY CRESCENTS: Stir two 3-ounce containers candied cherries, chopped, into dough. After chilling, shape into 1 1/2-inch crescents. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Makes about 4 dozen.
7. GRANDMA'S ALMOND-JAM BARS: Heat oven to 325ºF. Increase butter to 1 cup and baking powder to 1 tsp.; reduce flour to 1 1/4 cups. In small bowl using fork, mix 1/2 cup batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped sliced almonds and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour until crumbly; spread remaining batter in two greased 8-inch square baking pans. Spread 1/4 cup apricot preserved over surface of each; sprinkle almond-crumb mixture over jam. Bake 45 minutes until firm and topping is browned. Cool in pan; cut into 2-inch-wide diamonds. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
8. LEMONY CONFETTI CRISP: Increase eggs to 2; stir 1 tbsp. each freshly squeeze lemon juice and grated lemon peel into dough. Drop unchilled dough by teaspoonfuls, spacing 2 inches apart; using back of spoon, smooth out to 2 1/2-inch circles. Top each circle with 1 tsp. chopped mixed candied fruits from 8-ounce container; bake, one sheet at a time, 8 to 10 minutes until edges of cookies are brown. Remove immediately from cookie sheet; quickly drape over rolling pin to set curved shape. Makes about 6 dozen.
9. SWEET MINCE MINI PIES: In small bowl combine 1/2 cup prepared mincemeat and 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel. After chilling, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 2-inch scalloped rounds. Using sharp knife, cut small X in center of half of rounds. Place 1/2 tsp. mincemeat mixture in center of uncut rounds; top with cutout rounds. Using tines of fork, press edges of "pie" to seal. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
10. CHERRY STARBURST: Stir 1 tbsp. molasses, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon into dough. Using cookie press fitted with spiral disk, press out unchilled dough; place red candied cherry half from 3-ounce container in center of each cookie. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.
11. CHOCO-MOCHA ROUNDS: Beat 2 tsp. instant coffee powder into dough. After chilling, roll out to 1/8 inch thickness; cut into 2-inch scalloped rounds. Bake 8 to 10 minutes; when cool, dip each round halfway into melted semisweet chocolate (four 1-ounce squares). Decorate with pearl sugar. Makes about 5 dozen.
12. COCONUT-PINEAPPLE SQUARES: Heat oven to 325ºF. Increase butter to 1 cup and baking powder to 1 tsp.; reduce flour to 1 3/4 cups. Spread batter in two greased 8-inch square baking pan; spread 1/4 cup pineapple preserves over surface of each. Sprinkle each with 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut. Bake 45 minutes until firm, covering loosely with foil after 30 minutes to prevent burning. Cool in pans; cut into 2-inch squares. Makes 32.
13. SESAME GEMS: Stir in 1/4 cup sesame seeds into dough. After chilling, shape into 1-inch balls. Brush with beaten egg white; sprinkle with additional sesame seeds. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.
14. HONEY-NUT HOLIDAY STARS: Substitute 1/4 cup honey for 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. almond extract for vanilla and 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds for 1/2 cup flour. After chilling, roll out to 1/2-inch thickness; cut into 2 1/2-inch stars. Brush with beaten egg white; sprinkle with additional chopped almonds. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.
15. EASY ORANGE SLICES: Substitute 2 tbsp. grated orange peel for vanilla. Shape dough into one 7-inch log. Freeze, wrapped in plastic, 10 minutes. Cut log into 1/4-inch slices; press candied orange peel from 3-ounce container into slices. bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
QUICK CONFECTIONERS' ICING: In small bowl stir 2 to 3 tbsp. water into 2 cups confectioners' sugar until blended and smooth; add less water or up to 2 tsp. more, depending on desired consistency. Makes about 1 cup.
Source: Redbook 1988
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