You know those cookie tins that are everywhere this time of year? You know the ones I’m talking about…the ones with the little shortbread-like cookies in all different shapes? That come in the little papers? I love those cookies. I decided that I wanted to make something with that same mild flavor, but that wasn’t shortbread (because I’ve already done that) this year.
A couple of years ago, a fellow librarian passed on the name of a cookbook that she really liked. Bon Appetit, Y’all is one of those books (there are lots) that takes good Southern recipes and makes them fancy. Usually I don’t like those sorts of recipes because they can be hard and require a lot of time and ingredients, but I really liked this book. There were lots of familiar recipes with only small updates and I bookmarked lots of recipes to try. One of those recipes was this cookie, soft mildly flavored sugar/shortbread-like cookie; exactly like what I wanted to make this year.
French Butter Cookies
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2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (like Crisco), room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted*
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a small bowl sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and shortening until it’s light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in powdered sugar on low speed. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients; beat until well combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°. Divide dough into 4 equal portions, and place all but one back in the refrigerator. Divide the remaining dough into 12 equal pieces, roll each one into a smooth ball, and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Use a fork to flatten the cookies, like you would a peanut butter cookie**. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are golden, but not browned.
Cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, working with only 1 piece of dough at a time, so everything stays chilled.
-Adapted from Bon Appetit, Y’all
*Remember that 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted is not the same as 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar. In this recipe, measure first, then sift.
**I forgot to flatten the cookies with a fork on one of the batches and they turned out fine, just not as decorative. So you can consider that step optional.