Basic Holiday Butter Cookies (& 15 Variations)
1/4 cup Vegetable shortening Plus 1 teaspoon./divided
3/4 cup Unsalted butter -- softened
2 cups Sugar
4 Egg yolks
1 tablespoon Pure vanilla
1/3 cup Light cream
5 cups Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Cornstarch
4 teaspoons Baking powder
Preheat to 350ºF. Grease 2 sheets with 1/2 tsp. each of shortening. If desired,
line sheets with parchment paper, but do not grease. In lg bowl, beat together
butter and remaining 1/4 cup shortening till color is even. Add sugar and beat
till fluffy, 3-5 min. In small bowl beat together yolks, vanilla and light
cream. Slowly pour into butter mix. Continue beating till egg mix is thoroughly
In separate lg bowl sift together flour, salt, starch and baking powder. Fold
flour mix gently into butter mix in 3 additions, beating each addition till
incorporated. Scrape down mix occasionally. Place 4 sheets of plastic wrap on
work surface. Place 1/4 of dough on each sheet of plastic. Form each clump of
dough into a disk and wrap in plastic.
To Bake: Cut, form or shape 1 disk of dough into 24 cookies, according to
individual directions below. Place on prepared sheets. Bake 15-20 minutes,
depending on size and shape. (See individual instructions below.) Remove cookies
from oven and immediately transfer cookies to rack. Each variation makes about 2
doz. When completely cooled, store in tins or freeze, wrapped in freezer wrap or
freezer plastic. Can be frozen 8-12 month.
1. CUT-OUTS: On floured surface, roll chilled dough to 1/4" thick. Flour cookies
cutters and cut. Lift with metal spatula onto prepared sheets. Decorate before
or after baking. For a vibrant food paint, mix 1 egg yolks with 1 tsp. water.
Divide egg mix into 4-6 small bowls or a muffin pan. Use only a small amount of
food color in each. Paste coloring will result in more intense colors than
liquid food coloring. Use food paint brushes or cotton swabs to paint cookies.
Colors intensify during baking. Or decorate after baking by piping frosting onto
cooled cookies. The number of cookies will vary depending on size and shape of
cutters. Egg-based paints should be used ONLY before baking.
2. SPRITZ: If desired, beat or fold in food color into dough. Fill cookie press,
gun or pastry bag. Use die or tip as desired. Follow manufacturer's directions.
Makes about 35 using 1 dough disk.
3. CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MARBLES: Melt and cool 4 oz of chocolate. Knead chocolate
into 1 dough disk, just enough to achieve marbled look. Cut 6 caramels into
quarters. Form a 3/4" ball of chocolate marble dough around each caramel
quarter. Place on baking sheet. Chill 20 min. Bake 15 min. Makes 24.
4. MACAROON WREATHS: Tint 1 disk of dough and 2 cup of coconut with green food
coloring. Mix dough with 1 cup of green coconut. Roll into 24 tubes about 5"
long. Join ends to form a wreath. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with remaining
1 cup coconut. Dab a tiny amount of egg white on wreath and place 5 red cinnamon
candies on each wreath. Bake 15 min till slightly golden. Makes 24.
5. DRIED CHERRY AND ALMOND BISCOTTI: Plump 1/2 cup dried cherries in boiling
water for 5 min, then drain. Into 1 disk dough, knead in 1 tsp. almond extract,
drained dried cherries and 1/3 cup slivered almonds. Roll into 10" cylinder.
Place on foil-lined sheet. Bake 30-40 min. Remove from oven, lift foil to
cooling rack, cool 30 min. Slice cooled cylinder into 1/2" thick pieces on a
diagonal. Bake 8-10 min on each side. Makes 20.
6. PEANUT CHOCOLATE CHIPS Using 1 disk of dough, knead in 1/3 cup peanuts and 1
cup chocolate chips. Drop about 2 tbsp. of dough at a time onto sheets. Bake 15
min. Makes 24.
7. & 8. CHRISTMAS PEPPERMINT STARS & MARBLE STARS: Use 2 dough disks. In food
processor, pulverize 16 red & white peppermints. In 1 disk of dough, knead in
crushed mints & red food coloring. Roll into 10 x 15 rectangle. Set aside. On
floured plastic wrap, roll second disk into 10 x 15 rectangle. Invert the plain
dough on top of the peppermint dough. Cut stars with floured cookie cutters &
place on prepared sheet. Brush with egg white & sprinkle with green sugar. For
MARBLE STARS: Reroll scraps, enough to stick together, but keeping a marble
effect. Cut stars & bake. Makes about 48.
9. KISS COOKIE HATS: Form 1 disk of dough into 24 1" balls. Place each ball in
greased and floured mini-muffin tin. Bake 15 min or till balls start to brown.
Remove from oven and immediately place & press an unwrapped chocolate kiss in
center of each. Let stand 2 min. Carefully remove from muffin tin and place on
rack. Makes 24.
10. CONFETTI ROUNDS: Roll 1 dish of dough into 8" cylinder. On piece of plastic
wrap, sprinkle about 2 ounces on confetti sprinkles, nuts, candies or other
coating the length of the cylinder. Roll cylinder in coating. Roll cylinder back
and forth till outside is completely coated. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate
at least 2 hours. Remove from fridge, slice into 1/4" slices. Bake about 15 min.
Makes about 32.
11. MADELEINES: Sprinkle 1 disk with 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest and 1/2 tsp. lemon
extract. Knead dough till zest and extract are evenly combined. Press dough into
greased Madeleine pans, about 3/4 full. Bake 16 min. Makes 20.
12. CHOCOLATE TOFFEE CRUNCH BARS: Press 1 disk into bottom of 9" square prepared
pan. Bake 15-20 min. Cool at least 20 min. Melt 24 oz of chocolate. Pour about
half the chocolate over the baked and cooled crust. Sprinkle with 10 oz of
toffee bits. Pour remaining half of melted chocolate over. Garnish with holiday
bits (candy coated, semisweet, chocolate balls). Set aside till chocolate firms.
13. ALMOND VENETIANS: Add 1 cup ground almonds or other ground nuts and 1/2 tsp.
almond extract or appropriate extract to 1 disk dough. Knead dough till evenly
combined. Press into molded cookie pan, about 3/4 full. Any shallow cookie mold
will work. Bake 12 min. If desired, cooled cookie can be dipped in chocolate or
sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Makes 24.
14. PIZZELLES: Knead 3/4 tsp. lemon, almond or anise extract into 1 disk of
dough. Roll dough into 1/2" balls. Place in hot Pizzelle iron. Follow
manufacturer's directions. When golden, remove from iron and cool on a rack.
15 & 16. FRUIT PINWHEELS & NUT PINWHEELS: On piece of floured plastic wrap, roll
1 disk of dough to 8 x 14 rectangle. Spread 12 oz fruit or nut filling on
rectangle. Gently roll the rectangle using the wrap to support the weight of the
dough. Chill at least 2 hrs. Slice into 1/4" pinwheels and place on greased
parchment or foil. Leave plenty of space between cookies. They will spread. Bake
18-20 min. When removing from oven, lift parchment or foil off sheet onto rack.
When cooled, peel foil or parchment from cookies. Makes 28