Canal House Cooking
-- Christopher Hirsheimer served as food and design editor for Metropolitan Home magazine, and was one of the founders of Saveur magazine, where she was executive editor. She is a writer and a photographer. -- Melissa Hamilton cofounded the restaurant Hamilton’s Grill Room in Lambertville, New Jersey, where she served as executive chef. She worked at Martha Stewart Living, Cook’s Illustrated, and at Saveur as the food editor. (Hirsheimer & Hamilton)
CANAL HOUSE COOKING VOL.5, THE GOOD LIFE is a collection of some of our favorite recipes, the ones we cook for ourselves, our friends, and our families during the fall and right through the holiday season. These are recipes that will make you want to restock your pantry and refrigerator and start cooking.
Our friend Katherine Yang is an exquisite baker whose pastries and desserts always balance sweet and savory perfectly—a quality we love because we’re really not big dessert eaters. She shared her recipe for these tender, subtly sophisticated cookies. Like most bakers, Katherine relies on measuring her ingredients by weight, not volume, for the most consistent results. We agree, but have included both methods below in case you don’t have a scale. We found two other points in her meticulous notes that really did make a difference: letting the dough rest in the refrigerator, and making sure the dough is always cold when it’s being worked. What’s that expression? God is in the details.
- 2 Cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 16 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1/2 Cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside. Lightly whisk together the whole egg and egg yolk in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean paste in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until just combined. Add the sifted flour and beat just until the dough is smooth.
Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper into 8”× 12” sheets. Lay one sheet on a flat work surface and put a quarter of the dough in the center. Lay another sheet on top of the dough then roll the dough out between the sheets until it is 1/8- to 1/4–inch thick. Transfer the rolled-out dough to a flat tray. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking the sheets of dough on top of each other on the tray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Take one sheet of dough out of the refrigerator at a time. Peel off the top sheet of parchment. Use a cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes, leaving them in place. Dust the cutter with a little flour if the dough begins to stick.
Using a thin spatula, transfer the cut out shapes to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Decorate them, if you like, with decorating sprinkles and/or sugars. Refrigerate the cut-out shapes on the baking sheet until cold. Repeat until all of the dough has been cut into shapes. Refrigerate the dough whenever it becomes too soft to work with. Re-roll the scraps between sheets of parchment paper, refrigerate dough until firm, and repeat the process until all the dough has been cut out.
Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking, until they are slightly puffed and the edges are pale golden brown, 10–12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.