I’ve been making these cookies (a Cook’s Illustrated recipe) at Christmastime for a few years; they are delicious and easy, and the dough keeps well in the freezer if you only want to bake half a batch at a time. I love the addition of orange zest and chocolate (make sure you chop it very fine, otherwise the cookies might crumble a bit when you slice them before baking), but you can also stick with the original recipe and roll the dough in sprinkles for a more festive look. We don’t have tree nuts in our house because Freddie is allergic, but I’m sure rolling in toasted nuts would also be delicious.
2 1/4 cups all-purpse flour
1/2 tsp salt
16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sprinkles, 1/2 chopped and toasted nuts, or 1/2 cup chopped chocolate and zest from 1 orange
Whisk flour and salt together in medium bowl. Using a stand mixer (with paddle), beat sugars and butter on medium high for 3-6 minutes until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg yolks and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture slowly until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. If using chocolate and orange zest, add to dough and stir until combined.
Divide dough in half and roll each half into a 6-inch log. Wrap logs tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 3 days). Dough can also be frozen (allow to thaw in fridge for a few hours before slicing).
Adjust oven rack to middle position (or upper-middle and lower-middle if using 2 cookie sheets) and heat to 325 degrees fahrenheit. If using plain dough, spread sprinkles or toasted nuts on parchment paper and roll logs to coat outside (you might have to press them in slightly to ensure they stick). Slice logs into 1/4 inch cookies and bake for 12-15 minutes (rotate halfway if using two sheets) until very lightly browned at edges (ideally take them out just as they’re about to start browning, but this can be a bit hard to judge with the first batch). Cool on sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Let cool thoroughly and enjoy!
*I’ve also made this mix by hand with a whisk. It is tiring, but possible!