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Letter Cookies

There is a noticeable trend around here: My daughter is eager to help whenever I cook or bake something. For the most part, whenever she decides on a dish we ought to make, her selection centers around cookies.

Just yesterday, she bugged me endlessly about trying something new. After much back and forth, we decided that we could make a dough, roll it into little pencil-like shapes, and form letters out of the dough. Thus, we went to work, got our ingredients, made a tasty dough, let it sit, and created cookies that truly delighted my daughter.

Here's what we did:


3 cups All-purpose flour

6 egg yolks

1 cup confectioner's sugar

½ grated rind of an untreated/organic lemon

14 Tbs. of cold unsalted butter

For the glaze:

2 egg yolks

Let's get started:

Pour the flour onto a flat work surface – I use a large wooden board.

With a spoon, create a deep impression in the center.

Put the six egg yolks into the impression.

Slice the butter into small chunks and place them around the mound of flour and egg yolks.

Pour the powdered sugar over the mound of flour, butter, and egg yolks. Weird, right?

Now, take a large chef's knife (or really, any non-serrated knife), and start chopping away on all those ingredients. Go front to back and side to side. Scrape the edge of the knife over your work surface to make sure you get all of the ingredients and form back into a mound. Keep chopping until all the ingredients starts to come together into a dry and flaky yet still very flour-like consistency. You want to make sure that there are no large butter pieces left and that the egg yolks have been incorporated.

Now use your clean and dry hands and start pressing the mixture together. This will take a few minutes and you might initially think that the whole process is a failure. It's not. I promise.

Keep forming the mixture into a ball, always pressing together. With time, the pressure and your warm hands will cause the butter to become soft and you will, eventually, end up with a firm ball of dough.

Once your have that ball of dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 1 hour.

When the hour is up, remove the ball of dough from the fridge, lightly coat your hands with flour, and remove the dough from the plastic wrap.

Separate a little piece of the dough and start rolling it with your hands on the work surface until your first have a dough sausage and, as you continue, end up with a pencil – but thicker, like the size of a marker, a little less than ½ inch in diameter.

Use these dough pencils to form letters or shapes. Cut them to size when needed, press various pieces together – if that's what needs to be done.

Place your creations on a greased cookie sheet or, even better, on a cookie sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.

Mix together the two remaining egg yolks and brush the yolks onto your completed letters and shapes. If you want, you can also put sprinkles on top.

Pre-heat oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake cookies on center rack for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dough letters and shapes.


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