For all the people that said Gourmet had gotten too fancy and fell out of touch with its readers, I have three words: basic butter cookies. While combing Epicurious online, this recipe was listed as an ingredient in many of Gourmet's other cookie recipes. I was torn between a savory bread pudding and this recipe to kick off the official launch of our little project here at Gourmet, unbound. Olga was my tie breaker. The more I thought about it, this recipe was a perfect beginning. It's going back to the basics, and a reminder that ingredients do not need to be exotic—it's what you do with them that makes the difference.
It all started with butter, sugar, flour and eggs (and a pinch of baking powder, salt and pure vanilla extract). While mixing the dough, it had the taste and feel of my aunt's spritz cookie recipe except there would be no cookie press involved here. The original Gourmet recipe calls for shaping the dough into a log, then slicing and baking them. I decided to roll some of the dough and use my favorite fluted cookie cutters, planning on making jam-filled sandwich cookies—some dipped in, and others drizzled with chocolate.
I also rolled some into balls, then pressed them into colored sprinkles—reminiscent of the same butter cookies found in many Brooklyn Italian pastry shops from my childhood.
And, then I made some thumbprint cookies, filled with wild Maine blueberry jam and finished with a dusting of confectioners' sugar.
Mind if I take one more moment of your time? Starting next Monday, December 7th, I'm hosting 12 Days of Sharing, a fundraiser for Share Our Strength, over at In Jennie's Kitchen. Want to help end childhood hunger? I thought so. Get the details here, and join me in making this a happy holiday season for everyone. And thanks for tagging along with Maggie, Olga and myself on this delectable journey.
Ingredients2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Get the directions to make these Basic Butter Cookies - Gourmet 2003
A few notes: I only measure exact amounts for vanilla when I'm creating recipes—otherwise, I tend to eyeball it. On this particular go-round I might be guilty of upping the amount to one whole teaspoon. As for baking time, even with all the assorted shapes, the most any tray baked was 10 minutes, and the thinner sandwich cut-outs only needed 8 minutes. In general, I'd keep a close eye on baking time, and 13 minutes sounds a bit too long unless you like very well-done or thicker cut cookies.
Featured December Gourmet Recipes
Hungry Bruno (sweet potato latkes, 2001)
Brown Eyed Baker (chocolate sandwich cookies, 2007)
Sweet Amandine (cranberry applesauce, 2007)
The Honey Eater (chesnut & kale soup, 2003)
More December Gourmet RecipesGourmet, all the way (stained-glass teardrops, 2002)
My Kitchen Addiction (parmesan roasted potatoes, 2000)
Gourmet Traveller (salted praline langues de chat, 2007)
The Oyster Evangelist (braised chicken with celery root & garlic, 2004)
The Gourmet Project (herbed rib roast, 2000)
East Village Kitchen (anise fougasse, 2006)
Taste As You Go (lemon orecchiette with spinach & peas, 2007)
Soup Addict (rainbow cookies, 2005)
Pretty Girls Use Knives (baked chicken with white beans & tomatoes, 2004)
The Reluctant Blogger (cranberry gin & tonics, 2006)
Whitney in Chicago (cranberry pistachio biscotti, 1992)
Editors' note: We'll be accepting submissions through December 15th, so keep them coming! Get the details here.