Yield: Approximately 30 medium/small mixed shape cookies
6 cups (750 grams/1 lb + 10 ounces) sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
2 cups unsalted butter, (1 lb, 454 grams, 16 ounces) in cubes, softened for about 20 minutes at room temperature
2 cups (400 grams/14 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs (straight from refrigerator)
2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (I always use Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) pure lemon extract (optional)
1. In large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
2. Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs.
3. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Stir in vanilla and lemon extract.
Steps to the perfect rolled dough (again, modest, I know):
4. Remove half of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter.
5. Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough.
6. Chill both discs of dough for about 45 minutes.
7. Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of parchment paper (I use a silicone rolling mat underneath to ensure it doesn't slip while rolling, but you can even dampen counter so the parchment sticks a bit.), then place two 1/4" wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
8. Roll dough (this will require a bit of elbow grease for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) so it's flush with dowels--they will ensure that your dough is even thickness.
9. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes (at least). While your dough is chilling, you can trace each little hand onto cardstock (or any thick paper) and cut out.
10. Remove dough from fridge, cut out your hand shapes using your template and an X-Acto type knife (or sharp paring knife) and place them on a baker's half sheet lined with a Silpat Non-Stick Mat, or parchment paper, with 2" clearance around each one and the edge of sheet. You can use small cutters to press a shape into the center of each hand by pressing down until you have the imprint, but not all of the way down through the cookie, (letter, heart, etc) and sprinkle with sanding sugar (optional).
11. Place sheet with cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Then bake 12-15 (10-12 if you aren't placing in freezer first) minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
12. Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.
May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. They also freeze well.
Package as desired.
1. For packaging, I used a 6" wide x 9" crystal clear bag and cut a 6" square piece of patterned scrapbooking paper and 6" square piece of wax paper (regular wax paper) overlay to place on top. I highly recommend using the wax paper overlay, otherwise the cookie will leave buttery marks on your pretty paper.
2. I cut additional 6" squares of white cardstock so the girls could write Christmas Card messages and then I slid them into the bag, facing out (the back of the bag) then cut small white strips for their names to slide into the front of the bag. In our case, with two little girls I wanted the recipients to be able to easily identify each girl's cookie, but if you're using only one "little hand," you could skip this step.
3. To seal bag, I folded the excess bag over the front and then, using a single hole punch, created 2 holes a few inches apart (see photo), then tied with ribbon (I used a Celadon colour).
4. To learn more about some of the baking tools I love and use often, check out Baking Supplies I Love (these would also make great foodie gift ideas!).