These light and flaky butter cookies just melt in your mouth. They're a perfect complement to your holiday cookie assortment, or as an anytime dessert with a cup of hot coffee or a tall glass of milk.
Butter Cookies - A Danish Creation
Butter cookies, a basic little dessert made primarily from butter, sugar and flour, originated in Denmark around the year 1100. They became popular when the first bakeries emerged there in the 1800's. Dutch settlers brought the first koekjes, or cookies, to North America in the 1620's.
The first butter cookies had very few ingredients in them, deriving their flavor entirely from the butter. These days, it's not unusual to add a teaspoon of an extract, such as vanilla or almond, to give them an additional pop of flavor.
Origin of This Butter Cookie Recipe
My mom began working part-time at Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the 1960's to earn some extra money when my sister and brother were in college. She worked a few days a week but she was always home on Sundays because all the malls and retail stores were closed. In mid century blue laws were in effect, which called for Sundays to be spent at worship services and at home. It wasn't until later in the 1970's that most of those laws were repealed and retail stores remained open on Sundays.
My mom worked in the office of the Sears credit department. She had two best friends there, Doris and Jean. They often traded recipes and brought trays of cookies to work for sharing at the holidays. Doris' butter cookies obviously struck a chord with my mom, who brought the recipe home. They are fast and easy to make, so she would frequently whip up a batch to satisfy my dad's sweet tooth.
Butter and Oil Make This Recipe Different
Most butter cookie recipes are made with butter as the only fat; this recipe calls for both butter and canola oil. In a cookie recipe, oil adds tenderness and flakiness. You have to be careful not to add too much, or the cookies will turn out greasy. These cookies had just the right amount; they have a light and flaky texture with no oily residue.
Hints for Successful Butter Cookies
- Bring the butter to room temperature so that it mixes smoothly with the sugars.
- Fold in the flour using a spatula rather than beating with an electric mixer. Overmixing releases the gluten in the flour and causes the cookies to become hard and dry.
- Use a cookie scooper to get uniform sizes balls of dough on your cookie sheet.
The handwritten recipe says to place the balls of dough on a cookie sheet and then flatten them for baking. I made a batch of flattened cookies and a batch not flattened. There was no difference in the taste, of course, but I preferred the look of the non-flattened cookies after they were baked.
These cookies were ready to come out of the oven in 12 minutes, but since oven temperatures vary, watch for a very light golden color to appear at the bottom of the cookie before removing them from the oven.
Looking for a delicious cookie recipe? Try our amazing Chocolate Frosted Pecan Cookies.
Light and Flaky Butter Cookies
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 cups flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using an electric mixer, cream butter, powdered sugar, and sugar together in a large bowl.
- Add eggs and oil, mixing until fully combined.
- Mix in cream of tartar and baking soda.
- Using a spatula, fold in the flour just until combined. Do not mix more than necessary.
- Roll into small balls, or use a cookie scooper to form balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.