Recipe Review

Dorie Greenspan Has a Brilliant Trick for Picture-Perfect Cut-Out Cookies

updated Dec 7, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Dorie Greenspan

If there’s one baker I always look to for cookie inspiration (other than our own Jesse Szewczyk!), it’s Dorie Greenspan. The brilliant mind behind World Peace Cookies consistently delivers recipes that are approachable, well-tested, and delicious. As I compiled a list of contenders for this cut-out cookie showdown, I knew I had to see what Dorie had to say on the matter. Would her Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla cookie dough — made with egg whites and no leavening — deliver the best sugar cookie cut-outs? I tried it to find out.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Dorie Greenspan

How To Make Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough

Cream unsalted butter, granulated sugar, and fine salt together with a mixer until light and smooth. Mix in egg whites and vanilla extract. The mixture may appear curdled at this point but it will come together with the addition of the flour. Add all-purpose flour in four additions, mixing just until incorporated before adding the next batch.

Divide the dough into four equal portions and shape into flat, round disks. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll to 1/4-inch-thick. Slide the parchment-sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough and more pieces of parchment. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or freeze for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, peel the parchment off both sides of the dough, then return the dough to one piece of parchment. Use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies and place on parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350°F until golden around the edges and on the bottom of the cookies. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling completely.

Note: In order to bake all sugar cookies in this showdown on the same day, doughs were made and chilled one day in advance of baking.

Credit: Patty Catalano

My Honest Review of Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough

Dorie Greenspan is a cookie queen, as evidenced by these shapely and browned sugar cookies that could easily pass for bakery-bought cookies. They emerge from the oven buttery, crumbly, and shortbread-like — but while delicious, my preference for holiday cut-out cookies is a thinner, crisper cookie (although these almost made me re-consider my stance).

These cookies also didn’t have the depth of flavor of other cookies in the bake-off. I appreciated that they caramelized slightly around the edges and on the bottom during baking, but I found myself missing the addition of egg yolk, which adds richness to many sugar cookie doughs.

With that said, I greatly appreciated Dorie’s attention to detail: Every step of this recipe is exquisitely explained. The dough is soft, but not sticky, and easy to work with. Plus, her cut-out method is brilliant. Typically, the worst part about making sugar cookies is keeping the dough cold enough to cut cleanly, but still soft enough to roll. Dorie eliminates this baking balance by rolling the just-mixed dough between parchment before chilling. If your dough still softens quickly in a warm kitchen like mine did, cover again with parchment, roll, chill, and repeat.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough, a Few Tips

  1. Use the best butter. Butter plays a critical role in these cookies, both for flavor and for their distinct shortbread texture. Use the best butter you can buy at the grocery store — your taste buds will thank you.
  2. Add almond extract. Almond extract is often the secret to full-flavored bakery-style treats. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to pick out the flavor on its own, but it will highlight the cookies’ sweet vanilla flavor.
  3. Don’t deviate from Dorie’s instructions. Without a doubt, Dorie has developed the best procedure for mixing, rolling, cutting, and baking sugar cookies. I won’t make cut-out cookies any other way, and neither should you.

Overall rating: 7/10

Are you a Dorie Greenspan cookie devotee? Tell us about your favorite in the comments.