This cookie recipe is one that I go to when I need to plan ahead for holiday parties. It’s simple, can be frozen and pulled out and baked up in a pinch. Also it’s so versatile that this one recipe can create a variety of cookies to impress your friends and family. All the cookies in the photo above were made from this one recipe.

It’s from the “Christmas from the Heart of the Home” book by Susan Branch. One of my favorite books because it combines Susan’s artwork, hand-lettering, holiday traditions, and recipes. I could see the book becoming a family heirloom because I’ve used it for many of the recipes.

Annie Hall’s Butter Cookies

from Susan Branch (Click here to see her original recipe with artwork)

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

If you are going to bake these cookies right away, preheat oven to 350° F. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. (You can use a mixer for this or just a wooden spoon.) Add egg yolks and vanilla and stir to combine. Gradually add flour and salt, beating until a stiff dough forms. Form dough into shapes (see options below) and bake on ungreased baking sheets for about 10 minutes.  The cookies should be firm but not browned.


Options for shapes and flavors:
  • Separate some dough and add knead in two tablespoons of cocoa powder to create chocolate butter cookies. In my photos I used the chocolate dough to twist with some plain dough to make candy cane shapes. You can also add food coloring. I also rolled in sprinkles before baking.
  • Roll out dough and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
  • Take about a tablespoon of dough, pressing a well in the middle and fill with jam before baking for thumbprint cookies. Drizzle with icing once cooled.
  • Shape into logs, roll logs in sprinkles or chocolate jimmies, wrap and freeze. Slice dough 1/2-inch thick and bake. (My favorite way!)
  • Baked cookies also freeze well and are perfect for shipping.