We’re celebrating a very merry Christmas with the third exclusive recipe from The Gourmet Cookie Book, which features the single best cookie recipe for every year from 1941 through 2009.
Bake up a batch of this week’s featured cookie, Old-Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies (December 1947), then order your copy for the ultimate collection of holiday sweets. You can also bake up two other exclusive recipes for Cranberry Turtle Bars and Mocha Cookies.
Old-Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies
Copyright 2010 by Condé Nast Publications, Photographs by Romulo Yanes. Buy it now.
By 1947, memories of the war were beginning to recede and the country had relazed into a more lighthearted mood. That’s evident from the cover, which boasted a Christmas tree with gifts piled beneath it. Inside were stories about “Truffles and Trifles,” “Gilding the Goose,” and, for the first time ever, an article about gingerbread men. As if slightly embarrassed by such frivolity, the editors also included these cookies, which they insisted on calling the “pride of the thrifty housewife.” That is definitely underselling them. The cookies are made with modest ingredients, and they keep for weeks, but we were taken with the old-fashioned technique, which calls for blending sieved hard-cooked yolks and raw yolks into the dough, and then perfuming it with lemon zest or a dash of brandy. What you end up with are cookies that are incredible crisp and so flaky they almost seem to float away.
Makes about 12 dozen cookies.
Put 3 hard-cooked yolks through a fine sieve. Cream 1 pound (2 cups) sweet butter and gradually add 1½ cups sugar, stirring constantly until light and fluffy. Add the 3 strained yolks alternately with 6 cups sifted flour and 3 raw yolks. Knead the mixture with your hands until thoroughly blended, or until the dough is smooth and easily handled. Add the rind of ½ a lemon or 2 teaspoons brandy and continue kneading.
Chill the dough several hours, then roll as thin as possible. Cut it with cookie cutters in as many fancy shapes as desired. Brush each cookie very evenly with slightly beaten white of egg. Sprinkle the tops with a mixture of 1 cup each sugar and blanched almonds or walnuts, coarsely chopped. Place them on a slightly floured cooky sheet and bake in a moderate oven (350ºF) for 10 to 15 minutes, or until delicately brown, removing each cooky as it is ready.
- To hard-cook eggs, put them in a saucepan with cold water to cover, partially cover pan, and bring the water to a rolling boil, reduce the hear to low, and cook the eggs for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let stand in the water, covered, for 15 minutes, then run under cold water for about 5 minutes.
- The butter should be softened before beating (creaming).
- Use grated lemon zest (without any of the bitter white pith).
- Roll out the dough to a 1/16-inch thickness.
- Instead of flouring the sheets, line them with parchment paper.