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.

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. ❤

Bien Cuit Shortbread

I have wanted to make these cookies for quite a while but they require advance planning!

According to Food 52, this is the “World’s Best Shortbread” and is no longer available for purchase from the original source, Bien Cuit in Brooklyn. Fortunately, they were able to get the recipe and share it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food 52.com, contributed by Amanda Hesser. I modified the method as well as the baking time for a convection oven. They were incredibly flaky and minimally sweet.

Yield: 32 cookies

  • 302 grams unsalted butter (about 22.5 tablespoons)
  • 93 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 3.5 grams kosher salt (scant teaspoon)
  • 302 grams all-purpose flour
  • about 2 T granulated or raw sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Cut the cold butter into cubes and reserve at room temperature to temper slightly.
  2. Line a 13×9-inch rimmed baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and flour for a few seconds to combine.
  4. Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed until a smooth dough is formed and butter is fully incorporated. At first, the dough will look extremely flaky and dry; let it keep mixing and it will eventually come together into a dough.
  5. Distribute the dough in the baking sheet and spread it evenly to the corners. I covered the dough with plastic wrap, removed it from the pan using the parchment paper, and rolled it 3/8-inch thick with a rolling pin. After placing it back in the pan, I trimmed the edges and used the excess dough to redistribute it to the empty areas. I re-rolled the dough 3/8-inch thick.
  6. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. The next day, heat the oven to 300°F, preferably on convection.
  8. Dock the dough every inch or so with a fork.
  9. Bake until the shortbread is golden brown, 55-75 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. (I baked mine for 55 minutes on convection but may consider allowing them to brown further next time!)
  10. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle with sugar and let cool for 5 minutes.
  11. Transfer the shortbread onto a cutting board, trim the edges, if desired. Slice into 3-inch x 1-inch slices.
  12. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Shortbread Jammers

Over the summer, I brought these fabulous cookies to the beach when we went to enjoy the sunset. They transported very well and everyone loved them. 🙂 Any type of thick fruit jam or marmalade can be spread over the top of the cookie base. By using raspberry jam, I thought that they could be renamed “Easy Linzer Cookies.”

The recipe was adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion via The New York Times, contributed by Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan. I baked the cookies in a 9×13-inch pan, per the original recipe; The NYT recently modified the recipe to bake in an 8×8-inch pan. I thought that they were perfect as is, but may “have to” try the thicker version to compare. 😉

Rice flour is suggested to make the cookies more tender. I used all-purpose flour instead and was pleased with the results.

Yield: 24 cookies (9×13-inch pan) or 16 cookies (8×8-inch pan)

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rice flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted)
  • 1 cup thick fruit jam, preserves or marmalade (I used raspberry preserves)
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch or 8×8-inch baking dish. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. (I used a lined, metal 9×13-inch baking pan.)
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar at medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and vanilla and continue to beat until well combined.
  5. Add the flours and continue to beat until the dough comes together.
  6. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Prick it with a fork in about 20 places.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, or until golden around the edges. Slide a dull knife along the edges. Cool for 5 minutes. (an 8×8-inch pan may require a longer baking time)
  8. Using the parchment, lift the slab of shortbread out onto a clean surface.
  9. With a knife, trim 1 inch from one of the sides. Crumble the trimmings into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Cut the rest of the shortbread into 24 squares (9×13-inch pan) or 16 squares (8×8-inch pan) and allow to cool.
  11. Spread a thick layer of jam on each square. (I kept the cut cookies together and spread the jam over the top of the entire surface.)
  12. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top.

Note: Layered between plastic wrap or wax paper in an airtight container, the cookies will keep for 3 to 4 days.

Meyer Lemon Bars with Lemon Shortbread Crust

I love Meyer lemons! I am even dreaming of having a Meyer lemon tree in my house. 🙂

This dessert recipe was adapted from ViewfromtheGreatIsland.com. They are made with an entire Meyer lemon- minus the seeds. The crust incorporates the zest from another entire lemon which made them packed with flavor. It was essential to eat them cold, after being chilled for four hours to overnight, so they must be made in advance.

Yield: about 12 servings (one 9×9-inch pan)

For the Crust:

  • zest from one Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces

For the Filling:

  • 1 whole Meyer lemon, about 4-6 ounces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt

To Prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease and line a 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper.

To Make the Crust:

  1. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the zest from one Meyer lemon, taking only the yellow part, with little to none of the white part, which is bitter.
  2. Put the zest and sugar into a food processor and process until the two are well combined and the zest has completely incorporated into the sugar. You will still see tiny specks of zest, but no big pieces. Keep processing until you get to that stage.
  3. Add the flour, and cold butter to the bowl and pulse/process until the mixture is moist, crumbly, and almost comes together into a lump.
  4. Sprinkle the crust mixture into your prepared baking pan and pat down firmly and evenly. You should have a layer of even thickenss.
  5. Bake for about 17 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Thinly slice the second Meyer lemon and remove any seeds. Tip: do this over a bowl so you don’t lose any juice.
  2. Put the lemon and accumulated juice into a high speed blender like Vitamix or a food processor.
  3. Add the sugar to the lemon and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the container, if necessary, to get a smooth puree.
  4. Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt, and purée briefly until well combined.
  5. Pour the filling mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or bubbles.
  6. Pour the strained filling onto the hot crust immediately after it comes out of the oven.
  7. Put the lemon bars back into the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm and just starting to take on some golden color. Don’t over bake.
  8. Let the bars cool completely on a rack, then put them in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours or up to overnight.
  9. When cold, remove the bars using the parchment paper “handles,” and slice into squares.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies

I made these “Art Deco” vanilla & chocolate shortbread cookies as part of my Christmas cookie assortment, but the colorful sanding sugar edge could easily be modified to suit any occasion. Pink and red would be amazing for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, in two separate batches, making the process even easier because I kept one batch to use for the vanilla stripes and the second batch for the chocolate stripes. I also used egg yolks to coat the cookies instead of a whole egg. Wonderful.

Yield: Makes 40-48 cookies

  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • ⅓ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 egg yolk or 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • ¼ cup sanding sugar (any color)
  1. Whisk 1⅓ cups flour and ¾ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Whisk cocoa powder, remaining 1 cup flour, and remaining ¾ tsp. salt in another medium bowl. These are the bases for your chocolate and vanilla doughs.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (Do in 2 separate batches if doubling the recipe, making the vanilla dough first.)
  3. Add egg yolk and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Divide (for 1 batch) mixture between the 2 bowls of dry ingredients (about 1 cup in each). Scrape vanilla mixture back into stand mixer bowl (save the mixing bowl) and beat on low-speed just until combined. Return to reserved bowl.
  5. Repeat process with chocolate mixture.
  6. Arrange 2 large sheets (per batch) of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a work surface. Dollop one-quarter of chocolate dough in the center of each sheet and pat into rough 6×2″ rectangles. Dollop one-quarter of vanilla dough on top of each chocolate slab and pat into rectangles the same size and shape so that you have 2 layers each. Repeat entire process so you have 4 alternating layers.
  7. Tightly press stacked dough into cylinders about 1½” wide and 8″ long, using the plastic wrap or parchment to help you.
  8. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill until very firm, at least 2 hours. I chilled my dough overnight.
  9. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  10. Working one at a time, unwrap dough and brush with egg. Carefully sprinkle surface with sanding sugar and roll logs in sugar to coat well (really press dough into sugar so it sticks).
  11. Slice into rounds a generous ¼” thick, rotating after every few cuts to keep slices round.
  12. Arrange cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
  13. Bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until edges are just set, 12–14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

Note: Dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

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