Simplest Cookie-Cutter Cookies
Our go-to cookie recipe for nearly 20 years. Based on Mark Bittman's recipe for Refrigerator (Rolled) Cookies in How To Cook Everything, one of our all-time favorite cookbooks. Very simple, not too sweet, delicious. Feel free to gussy them up with the decoration of your choice (suggestions below).
Makes at least 3 dozen cookies, depending on size.
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to roll out the dough
Generous pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. In a separate small dish, combine the milk and vanilla extract.
2. Separately, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it is fluffy and light (patience, please; this could take up to 5 minutes). Beat in the egg.
3. Gradually add a portion of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and use a spatula or large spoon to combine. Add a dash of the milk/vanilla mixture and combine. Continue to alternate adding the flour mixture and milk/vanilla mixture, mixing to combine each new addition, until everything has been added and thoroughly combined.
4. Transfer the cookie dough to a plastic storage bag. Shape it into a log if you plan to slice cookies from it, or flatten the dough into a disk if you plan to roll it out and use cookie cutters. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to several days, or freeze indefinitely (wrapped very well). (If you are in a hurry, 15 minutes in the freezer will work nicely, especially if you've flattened the dough into a disk.)
5. When ready to bake, look in your cold oven to be sure the rack is in the middle position (if not, move it there). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, or line it with baking parchment.
6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with any cookie cutter (or if slicing, slice the log into 1/4-inch thick disks). Transfer the cookies to the lined or greased cookie sheet.
7. If you are decorating the cookies with sugar (as shown in our picture), carefully spoon or sprinkle sugar onto each cookie, trying to avoid spilling too much sugar onto the parchment or sheet (it will burn).
8. Bake for 5-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. They are done when they are turning slightly golden brown at the edges.
9. Allow cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
10. Your Simplest Cookie-Cutter Cookies are ready! If you can keep them from being gobbled up while still warm, you can decorate them with Royal Icing or Sugar Glaze once they have cooled completely.