Monday, December 14, 2009

Gourmet's Basic Butter Cookie Dough

Like many of you, I continue to mourn the death of Gourmet magazine. I was a subscriber for more than 20 years and their December issue was always my favorite. When I finally divested myself of the hard copies last year, it was the December issues I kept. They sit proudly on one of my bookshelves and I return to them again and again.

Happily, for us fans, there is a wonderful new blog project dedicated to highlighting and preserving the best of Gourmet Magazine. Its called Gourmet, Unbound - and you'll want to add it to your subscriptions and links. Each month, readers are invited to choose one recipe from Gourmet that was published during the same month and submit it to Gourmet, Unbound. The recipe can be from any year, but it must be from the current month. Bloggers and non-bloggers are invited to join the fun. Entries must be received by the 1st of the month. You can read the rules of entry here.

Even more happily, for me, they've extended the deadline for this month only. Good thing too! I had every intention of submitting this cookie by December 1st ... but that didn't happen. With thanks to Gourmet, Unbound for extending the deadline for us slackers ... this is my submission:

I happened upon this astounding cookie dough recipe back in 1995. It was in the December issue of Gourmet and I've been making it ever since. One big batch of luscious buttery dough that can be turned into any number of magnificent cookies, this double-duty dough is a real time saver.

This recipe provides enough dough to make two cookie variations.
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
In the large bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in flour gradually, beating dough until just combined well.

Remove dough from bowl and divide into equal halves. Wrap each half in waxed paper and aluminum foil and chill in the fridge until needed. This recipe will yield approximately 3 pounds of dough, or enough to make 2 different cookie variations.

I used half of mine to make the cookies seen above ...

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Sticks:
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted and cooled
  • 1/2 prepared basic butter cookie dough at room temperature (recipe above)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the basic cookie dough and the cooled toasted coconut and beat until just combined well. Halve the dough and place each half between long sheets of waxed paper. Roll and pat each half of dough, shaping with your hands, into 11' by 2 1/2' rectangles. Chill shaped dough, wrapped in waxed paper, until firm - about 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Work with one rectangle of dough at a time. Place the chilled rectangle on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange slices 1 inch apart on a large cookie sheet. With a sharp knife, cut each slice in half lengthwise to create two "sticks", separating them slightly with knife.

Bake cookies in batches in the middle of a pre-heated 350 degree oven until pale golden, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer carefully to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or a double boiler and gently dip one end of each stick into chocolate, dragging underside against the rim of the bowl to remove excess. Transfer coated sticks to sheets of wax paper to harden. When chocolate has hardened, cookies may be stored between layers of wax paper in airtight containers up to 6 weeks in the freezer. As written, this recipe will yield approximately 10 - 15 dozen cookies.

Cook's Notes: Now, what the recipe doesn't tell you - but I will - is that these suckers really puff when you cook them. Despite my own large notation in the margin, I fu ... er, screw this up every time I make them! Make thin slices when you are cutting the dough into strips. I usually get it right by the time I hit the 3rd batch, i.e., the end of the dough. Grrr. Do as I say, not as I do and cut them into 1/4 slices for the first cut. Really, I mean it!

Also, I recommend turning the cookie sheet half-way through the 12 minutes to ensure an even bake.

These cookies really are magnificent, especially if you love toasted coconut. They freeze and defrost beautifully, and what's better than a two-for-one?! Nothing. Stay tuned for the second iteration ... Mocha Butter Balls ... on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Bon appetit!


Heavenly Housewife said...

What great cookies! I am making some cookies tomorrow too. It kind of takes away the winter blues to have some delicious cookies baking away in the oven.

Daily Spud said...

I am so in the mood for doing a bit of Christmas baking Diva - the butter cookie dough sounds like a winner!

The Duo Dishes said...

The cookie baking has begun, and we are full force. This is a good recipe to keep on deck!

SSI said...

I made these cookies years ago, loved them then but forgot about them until I saw your make them look so yummy.

Fresh Local and Best said...

What a great idea to have Gourmet Unbound. It's an ironic and appropriate ode to the treasured magazine. Cookies look great!

Charmian @Christie's Corner said...

These look delicious! I can see serving them at a high tea or some other special event once Christmas is over.

Thanks for the heads up on Gourmet Unbound. I'll be bookmarking it once I hit "publish your comment".

stephchows said...

OK whoever thought up this blog idea is amazing!!! What a great way to have the mag live on :)

Katherine Aucoin said...

These look fantastic and are wonderful gifts!

The Diva on a Diet said...

HH - 'tis the season to be baking! Are you doing more macaroons? :)

Daily Spud - its too bad we don't all live near each other, we could have one hell of a baking party!

Duo - this one really is a keeper. In the next post I'll give a link to all the other variations. So yummy!

SSI - thanks, and welcome to Beach Eats! I'm glad the post served as a reminder for you. :)

FLB - I agree, I'm really excited about Gourmet, Unbound. I hope you'll participate in future months as well.

Charmian - You're right, these aren't just for holidays ... or at least they shouldn't be ... they're far too good to have just once a year. I hope to see you on Gourmet, Unbound too!

Steph - ditto to you on participating in Gourmet, Unbound. Its going to be such a fun blog.

Katherine - thanks! They are destined for my cookie basket gifts for sure.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you posted this a few years back. I saved some December issues too, but I can't find them, and my search at Epicurious wasn't coming up with the recipes! This is my favorite butter cookie recipe, and Christmas isn't the same without those coconut cookies. Yay!