Chicago Public School Butter Cookies

As soon as I read an article about these cookies, I was obsessed. 😉

Although named butter cookies, I would describe them as shortbread cookies. According to The Chicago Tribune, these fantastic cookies were the standout item served by the Chicago Public Schools from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Now described as a “cult classic,” easily identified by the three-finger press on top of the dough, Crockett Cookies updated the original recipe by incorporating vanilla bean paste and sea salt.

The recipe was adapted from crockettcookies.com, via myrecipes.com and The Chicago Tribune. I modified the proportions and size, using a cookie scoop to ration the dough. I also baked the cookies in a convection oven. Crockett Cookies sells them (as well as a peanut butter version) in grocery and specialty stores throughout the Chicagoland area- genius.

They have quickly climbed the ranks to be one of my husband’s absolute favorites- tied with Tutu’s! 🙂 The texture is perfect- crispy on the edges and tender and crumbly in the center. Crazy easy and absolutely delicious.

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to blend.
  3. Mix the salt into the flour, then add to the mixer and beat on medium until combined.
  4. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, make balls of dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  5. Using three fingers, press down on top of the dough to flatten, leaving the finger marks on the cookie. Place the cookies in the fridge and chill for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat an oven to 375° and prepare 2 large rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. (I set my oven to convection.)
  7. Bake 12 minutes, on convection, or up to 15 to 18 minutes in a standard oven, until lightly golden brown on the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.
  8. Cool completely on a rack on the pan then transfer to an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.

Note: To bake at a later date, the prepped cookies can be frozen in a single layer on a sheet pan, and then transfered to a zip top bag. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

One-Bowl Crispies

These cookies were simple and sensational. The original recipe named them “Brown-Edge Cookies” which didn’t seem fabulous enough! They were named for a similar crispy cookie sold by Nabisco prior to 1996 called Brown-Edge Wafers.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mille Shea and Liz Laskey, adapted by Margaux Laskey. Millie Shea learned this all-butter recipe from her mother in the 1930’s.

The authors described them as “buttery like the Danish cookies in blue tins, tender in the middle like snickerdoodles and snappy like Scottish shortbread.” The article also stated that they would be placed in the intersection of a Christmas sugar cookie, vanilla wafer, and French tuile. Wow. That is a combination of quite a few favorites!

I made half of the recipe below, yielding about 32 cookies. The recipe (even half of the recipe!) definitely makes enough to share.

Yield: about 5 dozen

  • 1 pound/453 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound/453 grams granulated sugar (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups/384 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  1. Arrange two racks around the middle of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add egg and vanilla. Beat on medium until incorporated, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add 1 cup flour and the salt and beat on low to just combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then beat on medium for 30 seconds just until no flour streaks remain. 
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart as the cookies spread quite a bit while baking. (I used a 1 T cookie scoop, leveled, and placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  7. Bake 2 sheets at a time, rotating the pans halfway through, until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are slightly puffed, 8 to 9 minutes on convection or up to 10 to 12 minutes in a standard oven. Be careful not to overbake.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  9. Cool on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Italian Butter (Spritz) Cookies

I do admire people who post Christmas cookie recipes prior to Christmas! 😉

This recipe was adapted from one of my absolute favorite books, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I used almond extract, Irish butter, a cookie press, and baked the cookies on convection. Simple and classic.

They can be made in any shape to suit the season. The original recipe also suggests topping the cookies with sprinkles, sparkling colored sugars, or drizzling or sandwiching them with chocolate.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 8 oz (225 g) unsalted European-style butter, at room temperature (I used Kerrygold)
  • 120 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond, lemon, or anise extract
  • 256 g (2 cups, spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkles or sparkling colored sugars, optional
  • melted dark or white chocolate for drizzling, optional
  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F (180 C), preferably on convection.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. (Silicone liners make piping a little bit easier because the they don’t lift up as the cookie press or piping tip pulls away.)(I used both!)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy.
  4. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and the additional extract of your choice. Blend for 1 minute more.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder. Scrape down the bowl well and make sure the dough is well mixed.
  7. Immediately transfer the dough to a cookie press or a heavy-duty piping bag fitted with a large open star tip, such as Ateco #826.
  8. Spritz the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. If using a pastry bag, pipe the cookies into desired shapes- aim for cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, spaced about 2 inches apart.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles or sparkling sugars, if desired.
  10. Refrigerate on the sheets for about 15 minutes, or freeze for 5 minutes. (I placed the parchment on a plastic cutting board in the freezer.)
  11. Bake until lightly golden at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies on parchment will brown faster; those on silicone mats will need a little more time to color.
  12. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 2 or 3 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. To finish non-sprinkled cookies, drizzle or sandwich with melted dark or white chocolate, if desired.

Parisian Corn Sablés

These simple shortbread-style cookies were minimally sweet with a perfectly crumbly texture. We enjoyed them plain and sandwiched with jam.

This recipe is from Apollonia Poilâne via The New York Times, contributed by Dorie Greenspan. They are included in the book “Poilâne, The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery,” by Apollonia Poilâne, who heads the legendary Parisian boulangerie. According to the article, the desserts made in the shop are bread-bakers pastries, described as as “less sweet, less fussy and less fussed over.” I chilled the dough in logs rather than rolling and cutting as a shortcut.

Yield: about 60 cookies

  • 125 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 T) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 250 grams unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cut into cubes, softened until creamy
  • 240 grams (2 cups) corn flour
  • 240 grams (1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • jam, for sandwiching the cookies, optional (I used Bonne Maman Four Fruits Preserves)
  1. In a large bowl, working with a mixer on medium speed, beat the sugar, egg and egg yolk until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the corn flour and all-purpose flour to a medium bowl, and whisk until combined.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Divide the dough in half, and using parchment paper, shape into 2 logs, about 1 1/4-inches in diameter.
  6. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. I place the logs in wrapping paper cardboard to maintain the shape. (I refrigerated the dough overnight- and even longer for a second batch.)(The dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.)
  7. To bake, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  8. Working with 1 log of dough at a time, slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick rounds, rotating the log between slices to make more even slices.
  9. Place the rounds 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheets. (I placed 12 cookies per sheet.)
  10. Bake the cookies until the centers are set and the edges are very lightly browned, 12 minutes on convection. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time.
  11. Immediately transfer the cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.
  12. Serve plain or sandwiched with jam. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

I shared these cookies with a friend and she shared this beautiful photo of them with me. ❤

Oatmeal Snickerdoodles

I made this twist on a classic snickerdoodle to share with friends at the beach while enjoying one of our last summer sunsets. Perfect. 🙂 The original recipe describes this version as being Early American, from Connecticut. They were thin with crisp edges and a more tender center.

The recipe was adapted from Cookies are Magic by Maida Heather. I had never baked cookies on foil which was recommended in the recipe to slow the browning process. Interesting! I modified the recipe to reduce the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping.

Yield: 50 cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large or XL eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Adjust 2 racks evenly spaced in the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut aluminum foil to fit 4 rimmed cookie sheets. (I used 4 half sheet pans and 1 quarter sheet pan.)
  3. Sift the flour, then measure.
  4. Sift the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into the measured, sifted flour. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla and both sugars and beat well, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.
  8. On low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating until just combined.
  9. Stir in the oats.
  10. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 1 T cookie scoop), place by rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2-inches apart. (I placed 12 cookies per sheet on the 4 prepared sheets, and the leftovers on the quarter sheet pan.)
  11. Make the Cinnamon Sugar Topping by whisking the cinnamon and sugar together.
  12. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar generously over the scoops of cookie batter.
  13. Bake the cookies for 9 to 12 minutes, reversing the sheets from top to bottom and back to front as necessary to ensure even browning.
  14. After removing from the oven, let cookies rest on the sheets for a few seconds until they are firm enough to transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Summer Bucatini with Buttery Zucchini Sauce

I love trying new ways to use summer zucchini. Making pasta sauce out of grated zucchini is absolute genius! This dish gobbled up all of the zucchini that I received in my CSA share- amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used bucatini (our favorite) instead of spaghetti. I also modified the proportions and method. It was a vegetarian crowd-pleaser. Super quick to prepare too.

Yield: Serves 5 to 6

  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water, and to taste
  • 16 ounces (1 pound, 450 grams) bucatini, cooked al dente (I used De Cecco)(can substitute with spaghetti, linguini, or fettuccine)
  • 2 cups (470 ml) pasta water, reserved
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (about 1100 to 1300 grams) zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated (I used 3 large zucchini- about 8 cups grated)
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams, 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 generous cup (90 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons (about 2 large handfuls)
  1. Mince the garlic cloves in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. Coarsely grate the zucchini in a food processor, emptying the bowl as necessary. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Add the garlic, stirring it into the butter for one minute.
  5. Add the zucchini, salt, and red pepper. Cook the zucchini, stirring from time to time, for 13 to 15 minutes. It will first let off a puddle liquid, the liquid will cook off, and the zucchini will become soft and concentrated. If the zucchini begins to brown, reduce the heat slightly.
  6. Stir frequently for 2 more minutes until it reaches an almost spreadable consistency.
  7. Meanwhile, boil your pasta in well-salted water until it’s 1 minute shy of fully cooked. Before you drain it, reserve 2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside. (I cooked my pasta for 9 minutes.)
  8. Pour in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water into the zucchini and butter mixture scraping up any browned bits.
  9. Add the drained pasta, and cook together for 2 minutes. Use tongs to pull up the zucchini butter sauce into the pasta strands, tossing frequently, and adding some or all of the remaining pasta water as needed to loosen.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.
  11. Incorporate a generous half of the parmesan and basil and mix, then transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. (I served the pasta from my cast iron pan!)
  12. Garnish with remaining parmesan and basil. Serve.

Butterscotch Pudding

My son is a major fan of creamy comfort food. He was obsessed with this pudding and its caramel notes. ❤ I loved all of the garnishes.

This recipe for this sweet treat was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. She was able to find the perfect ratio of milk to cornstarch to prevent grittiness. I found that the pudding had to cook a little bit longer to thicken.

I topped the chilled pudding with lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, toasted and sweetened sliced almonds, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Next time, I may try candied pecans instead of almonds. 🙂 The original recipe includes several other options as well.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 packed cup/165 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups/480 milliliters whole milk
  • 1 cup/240 milliliters heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or Scotch whisky, optional (I omitted it)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • freshly whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving (I lightly sweetened the whipped cream with confectioners’ sugar)
  • chopped candied ginger, sliced almonds, Demerara sugar, shaved chocolate, cocoa nibs or flaky sea salt, or a combination , for garnish, optional
  1. Put egg yolks, cornstarch and salt into a large heatproof bowl (preferably with a spout), and whisk until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps. (I used a balloon whisk and a pyrex bowl with a spout.)
  2. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter, whisking, until the brown sugar melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (I used a sauce whisk so that I could get into the edges of the pan.) Let cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to smell like hot caramel and darkens slightly, about 1 minute longer. (Don’t walk away, or the mixture may burn.)
  3. Immediately pour the milk and cream into the pot. (It will bubble fiercely and seize up- the sugar clumps.) Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the clumps melt, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking yolks until smooth, then whisk in the remaining hot cream mixture. Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan and place it over medium heat.
  5. Cook pudding, whisking constantly especially around the bottom and edges of the pot, until it comes to a full boil. It is important to bring the pudding to a full, vigorous boil to activate the cornstarch. Otherwise, it may not set. (If you end up with thin, runny pudding, undercooking may have been the issue.) Also- it’s okay if the eggs curdle because the mixture is strained at the end.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring the mixture constantly, until it thickens enough to mound thickly on the spoon, 4 to 10 minutes. If at any point the pudding looks curdled, whisk to help smooth it out.
  7. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof container or bowl, then stir in the Scotch or bourbon, if using, and vanilla.
  8. To prevent a skin from forming, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. (If you like the skin, don’t cover pudding until it cools.)
  9. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  10. If garnishing the pudding with toasted sliced almonds, evenly spread them on a parchment paper-lined rimmed sheet pan; roast in a 400 degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place in a small frying pan. Top with granulated sugar, to taste, and cook over medium-low to medium heat just until the sugar melts and coats the almonds, about 1 to 2 minutes. Return to the lined baking sheet to cool.
  11. When serving, spoon pudding into dishes. Top with dollops of whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, and any of the optional garnishes. (I incorporated some confectioners’ sugar into freshly whipped cream.)

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