These are fragile and buttery and easy to pipe because the dough is rather firm. The dough is also fine for putting through a cookie press if you have one. These cookies don’t need to be finished off with anything before or after baking, but you can dust them lightly with cocoa powder, sprinkle them with sprinkles, or place a quarter of a candied cherry, an almond slice, or a chocolate chip (flat side up) in the center of each before baking. You can also use a floured fingertip to make a small cavity in the center of each and spoon in some preserves after the cookies have cooled.
Makes about 30 cookies, depending on the size you pipe them
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
Two cookie sheets or jellyroll pans lined with parchment or foil
Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until just combined.
Stop the mixer, add the egg, and scrape down the bowl and beater. Beat again on medium speed until smooth.
Stop and scrape again, then beat in the flour on lowest speed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to give a final mixing to the dough.
Pipe the dough onto the prepared pans using a 1/2-inch star tip (Ateco #824), leaving about 1 inch between cookies in all directions.
Bake the cookies until they are light golden, 10 to 12 minutes. The best test for doneness is to turn one of the cookies upside down: If it’s light golden on the bottom too, they’re ready. Since the baking time is so short, it’s not necessary to change racks midway through the baking, but stack 2 pans together for the bottom rack if you know your oven gives strong bottom heat to prevent the cookies from burning.