These cookies are insanely delicious and dangerously addicting. The name just does not do them justice. The cookie dough is rolled out very thinly in a heavy coating of coarse sugar, and as they bake the sugar caramelizes and the butter becomes incredibly nutty. If you’re a fan of butter and sugar, you need to try these at least once. I don’t think they will disappoint.
The dough can be a little tricky to work with, since it does get rolled thin, but if you work quickly and calmly, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. And the reward is well worth it, even if your cookies end up looking a little wonky.
I’ve made these for two years at Christmas time. The first year I made them, I broke my toe organizing my Christmas cookies in the freezer. A 5-pound frozen pot roast came sliding out of the top of the freezer and landed directly on top of my toe. Worst kitchen injury to date. Luckily I had these buttery cookies and Arrested Development to keep me busy while I recuperated. And as for the pot roast, I cooked that baby into submission, and it tasted oh so good.
Buttery Crystal Diamond CookiesAdapted slightly from King Arthur Flour Makes about 5 -6 dozen cookies. If you decide to use Italian-style flour, it has a lower protein content, which will make it easier to roll. 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour OR 1 3/4 cups (6 7/8 ounces) Italian-style flour 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) whole milk 2 drops lemon oil or 1/4 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon instant yeast* 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces 1 to 1 1/2 cups (8 to 12 ounces) coarse white or Demerara sugar, for rolling
Mix together the flour, milk, lemon oil or zest, yeast and salt till well combined. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric mixer, beat in the cold pieces of butter one at a time, beating for 1 full minute after each piece is added. Scrape dough down from bowl as needed. The dough will be very smooth, shiny, and elastic. Remove the dough from the mixer. Place it in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate it for 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
Pre-heat your oven to 275°F.
Sprinkle your work surface heavily with coarse sugar (white sanding sugar or Demerara). Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time (and keeping the rest refrigerated), roll the dough on the sugar-covered surface as thinly as possible; 1/16″ is ideal. Turn the dough over several times, adding sugar as needed, so that both top and bottom surfaces end up heavily coated with sugar, and do not stick to your surface. If you have a Silpat baking mat, I’ve found it makes the process easier. The dough will soften fast, so be prepared to work quickly.
Using a pastry wheel, or a sharp knife, cut the dough into squares or diamonds. Try to cut pieces about 2″ in size.
Transfer the cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving at least a 1/4″ of space between cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake the cookies for 50 to 60 minutes. They should be a deep, golden brown, almost mahogany, but not burned. The closer you get to deep brown, the better they’ll taste, and the crisper they’ll be. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack as soon as possible, so that they don’t stick to the parchment.
Store cookies in air-tight container. We’ve stored them up to a week with success – they might last longer, but we wouldn’t know since they usually disappear before then.
* I used active dry yeast instead. To substitute active dry for instant, reduce milk to 1/2 cup and use 1 tablespoon of room temperature water to activate yeast. Let yeast and water sit for 5 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.