The holidays are never complete without this treat. Nana Hazel baked hundreds of dozens in her lifetime, and passed the tradition down to Emily. The butter cookie recipe came from a long-ago friend of Nana’s whose parents came from Denmark.
From Stephanie: Nothing says “Christmas” like Nana’s Butter Cookies. It is never too early in the morning, nor late in the day to enjoy a few. And then a few more. They go with most any beverage – hot tea, hot coffee, cocoa, cold glass of milk, punch. Not so great with wine, but perhaps I haven’t found just the right pairing. Nana would often put red and green candied fruit pieces in the center of hers (which would promptly stick to any and all dental work). My favorite butter cookies were the ones shaped like Milano cookies and dipped in dark chocolate (must be why I LOVE Double Chocolate Milanos today). There are some (you know who you are!) who could ‘take or leave’ a Butter Cookie (unimaginable to me) and certainly never with the dark chocolate coating. Emily continues to make these pieces of heaven whenever I ask (I try to keep it just to the holidays); she did make them for Easter one year and put dollops of pastel icing in place of the candied fruit. That got me to thinking Butter Cookies could be adapted by color to most any holiday, leaving plain ones for the rest of the year.
1 lb real butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup superfine sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar well; add egg and vanilla extract; add flour slowly until completely blended. Load dough into a cookie press with decorative inserts. Press onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for eight to 10 minutes or until golden around the edge. Let cool. If desired, decorate with candied fruit or dip into chocolate.
Melt two cups of semi-sweet chocolate bits over hot water in a double broiler. Add ¼ cup hot milk and beat smooth. Keep chocolate warm while dipping; lay each cookie on wax paper until chocolate is firm.