(perfect for cookie stamps!)
Cream 1 pound (4 sticks) room temperature butter (I use the salted kind) for about 30 seconds with mixer on medium speed, but don't whip air into the butter.
Add 1 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar and 1/2 tsp. table salt (not Kosher salt), cream again on low speed till incorporated into butter, don’t over-cream and whip air into the mixture!
On low speed, gradually add in 4 cups of sifted flour, all purpose is fine, but you can substitute up to half of the flour with another type, like almond flour, cake flour, etc. to experiment with different tastes and textures. Mix just until it comes together. At this point you can also add up to 1 tsp. of almond or vanilla extract, if you want a different flavor
Turn dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes so the flour gets incorporated into the butter. If you over-chill the dough it will be difficult to form into balls.
Form 1" balls of dough and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If you don't have parchment, it's OK, the cookies have enough butter that they won't stick but you will have to wash the cookie sheets....
Take your favorite cookie stamp design and press it into the big block of dough so it gets a bit dampened, then dip it in granulated sugar and press your cookie, as evenly as you can. If you dip your stamp in sugar before pressing each cookie the dough shouldn't stick, but if it does, just have a clean toothbrush handy to remove any bits of dough and try again. The granulated sugar really helps, and will give a nice sparkle to your finished cookies too.
Bake at 350 until the edges are just starting to brown; in my oven it takes about 12 minutes, but all ovens are not the same, so check your first batch frequently and adjust the time as needed. Remove to a wire rack to cool and enjoy!
Basic Preparation & Helpful Hints
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Season your new cookie stamps before using them the first time by brushing them with cooking oil. A toothbrush is ideal for this. The stamp becomes seasoned after using a few times and seldom needs further treatment.
Dip the stamp into a bit of granulated sugar before pressing onto eack ball of dough to help keep the dough from sticking.
When finished stamping your cookies, clean the face of your stamps with hot water and a soft brush to remove all traces of butter. Your cookie stamps may be hand-washed like any dish. Let them dry and store in a sealed container.
If your recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar, be sure not to overcream, as this may introduce excess air into the batter which can cause the imprinted design to “melt away” somewhat during baking. High-speed mixers may cream too fast – try turning it to the slowest speed or else cream by hand.
Experiment with your own butter cookie recipes. You may want to avoid any that contain eggs, baking powder or baking soda, as the design tends to disappear when the cookie rises.
You may also want to experiment with the type and brand of flour you use, as flours vary by type and brand and may affect the dough’s texture and ability to hold the stamp designs. If the design stamps well but disappears when baked, add a little more flour to the dough. You may find you prefer to use more flour than is called for in our recipes. You may also find that bread flour holds the designs better because it has more gluten. You may also add gluten (found in the grocery store) to your recipe to give more body to the dough and hold the design during baking.
Dough tinted with food coloring often makes the design more distinct. Lightly beaten egg white may also be tinted with food coloring and painted on the cookie with a brush immediately after the cookies come out of the oven.
To paint your cookies after they are cooled, try mixing food coloring with water and powdered (confectioners) sugar, then painting with a paintbrush. You can also melt your favorite chocolate in the top of a double boiler (over boiling water to melt it slowly without burning it), and use a paintbrush to apply it to the design like paint.
Be sure to use “homogenized” peanut butter rather than the natural types that separate in the jar (the oil rises to the top and it has to be stirred).
Adjustments in baking time and temperature:
...if cookies are too brown on the outside and not done on the inside, lower your oven temperature and increase the baking time.
...thin cookies bake quicker than thick cookies; adjust baking temperature and time accordingly. ...when using more than one cookie sheet, rotate the sheets on the oven racks half way through the baking cycle.