When the holiday baking season was fast approaching, I grabbed a copy of the new Gourmet Cookie Book. A couple of years ago, there was a cookie article in the magazine that offered the best cookie, as chosen by the editors, from each decade going back to the 1940s, and this book is an extension of that idea. It includes the best cookie from each and every year the magazine was published from 1941 to 2009. What I find particularly interesting about this book is that the recipes were reprinted as they were originally written, and there are notes throughout regarding how recipe writing styles have changed over the years. In some of the earliest recipes, the instructions were a little vague with suggestions to place cookies in a "moderate" oven and "add butter" with no reference to what temperature either should be. If you've baked similar cookies before, certainly you can figure out the process, but it's interesting that these days recipes leave no detail to the imagination. Just in case, the book's editors have provided updated notes on those early recipes to clear up any possible confusion. I started with one of those older recipes, from 1947 to be exact. It's an old-fashioned butter cookie, and I was intrigued by this recipe's use of hard-boiled egg yolks in addition to raw yolks in the dough. I'd seen that done before on a cooking show several years ago, and I wanted to find out how that affected the texture of the cookie.
So, three eggs were hard cooked, the whites weren't used here, but the yolks were pushed through a sieve and set aside. Butter and sugar were creamed, and the instructions suggest doing that by stirring. I only took the old-fashioned concept so far. I used my stand mixer. To the fluffily creamed butter and sugar, the sieved egg yolks were added alternately with sifted flour and three raw egg yolks. Last, some lemon zest was mixed into the dough. The dough was chilled before being rolled and cut into festive shapes. It was an easy dough to roll and cut, and it held its shape well. Before going into that moderate oven, which the editors noted should be 350 degrees F, the cookies were brushed with egg white and sprinkled with chopped nuts and sugar. I used roasted, salted, chopped macadamia nuts for mine.
These were crunchy, crumbly, buttery cookies. They had a nice snap, and I heard that snap repeatedly as these were possibly the easiest-breaking cookies I've baked. Once I realized I needed to handle them more carefully, I started to like that snap with each bite. The sandy, crumbly cookie and the crunchy nutty topping made these a great treat for the holidays or any time of year.