The following recipe is from the award-winning book, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, IDG Books, 1998. In addition to being a cookbook author, Mark Bittman writes "The Minimalist", a weekly column in the New York Times.

refrigerator (rolled cookies)

"These are ideal for cookie-cutter cookies because refrigerating a stiff cookie dough makes it easy to roll out. That doesn't mean you must do so; the alternative is to shape the dough into logs and to slice it thinly before baking. Generally, rolled cookies are more crumbly and less chewy than drop cookies. But if you want them on the chewy side, underbake them just a little bit, removing them from the oven while the center is still a little soft. To glaze cookies, drizzle or spread them with a mixture of one cup confectioners' suger and just enough milk or cream to make a thin paste - about one-third cup. Or decorate before baking with sprinkles or other tiny candies."

yield: at least 3 dozen
time: 30 minutes, plus time to chill


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus some for greasing the baking sheets
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups (about 14 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus some for dusting the work surface
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light; beat in the egg.

Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture, adding a little milk at a time as necessary. Stir in the vanilla.

Shape the dough into a disk (for rolled cookies) or a log (for sliced cookies), and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as 2 days (or wrap very well and freeze indefinitely).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the dough disk in half. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin and roll gently until about 1/8 inch thick, adding flour as necessary and turning the dough to prevent sticking. Cut with any holiday cookie cutter. (To slice, simply cut slices from the log, about 1/8 inch thick.)

Bake on lightly greased baking sheets until the edges are lightly browned and the enter set, 6 to 10 minutes. Let rest on the sheets for a minute or two before removing with a spatula and cooling on a rack. Store in a covered container at room temperature for no more than a day or two.

nine simple ideas for rolled cookies

  1. Stir 1 Tablespoon grated lemon or orange zest into the flour mixture before combining with the butter-sugar mixture (omit the vanilla). Add two Tablespoons poppy seeds as well, if you like.
  2. Add one cup dried unsweetened coconut to the butter-sugar mixture. Alternating with the flour.
  3. Add one cup chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts to the batter along with the vanilla. Or add one-half cup nuts and one-half cup raisins.
  4. Add one teaspoon ground ginger to the flour mixture; for a super-ginger flavor, add one-quarter cup minced crystallized ginger to the butter-sugar mixture.
  5. Replace some or all of the white sugar with brown sugar.
  6. Add one-half cup raisins or chopped dried fruit to the dough.
  7. Dust cookies with mixture of two Tablespoons white sugar and one teaspoon ground cinnamon just before baking.
  8. Stir one teaspoon ground spice, especially ginger, cardamom, or cinnamon, into the dough.
  9. Replace vanilla extract with one-half teaspoon amount of almond extract. Use in combination with chopped nuts if you like.

Copyright © 2001 StarChefs. All rights reserved.