Pretty, roll-out Christmas cookies cut into fancy shapes are more fun to make than to eat. Typically, the cookies tend to be hard and dry, viewed by the baker as nothing more than an edible canvas for holiday art. I confess, I’ve made more than my share of big, sturdy cut-out cookies looking lovely on stacked on a plate, yet tasting like over-iced sugar bombs drowned in sprinkles, sparkling sugar, and edible glitter.
Not this year: King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Holiday Butter Cookies produced a firm-yet-tender cookie that’s just too good to ice. I began baking with full intentions to decorate with abandon; after sampling a broken cookie straight from the oven, I quickly changed my mind. The texture is slightly sandy, like a shortbread (thanks to the cornstarch in the powdered sugar), and the delicate, not-too-sweet flavors of almond, vanilla, and browned butter combine to produce a cookie in need of no further embellishment.