If you love those Danish butter cookies with the delicious crunchy sugar crystals that come in that recognizable blue tin, then you will love these. At first bite they bring back that nostalgic flavor but they are homemade, so they taste even better! I used unsalted butter in this recipe, I didn’t realize until later that it called for salted butter. I loved the way these tasted, so I wouldn’t change a thing. The reason for using chilled butter and freezing the cookies before baking is because it prevents too much “spread” and encourages clean, tidy edges for the cookie.
slightly adapted from: Bon Appetit, December 2015
makes: about 24 (or more, if you use my lazy method)
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted (or salted) butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
white sanding sugar
special equipment: a 3″-diameter and a 1 1/2″-diameter fluted cookie cutter
Combine butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; scrape in vanilla seeds and discard pod. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in 1 egg. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in 2 cups flour. Form dough into 3/4″-thick disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 F. Let disk of dough sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes (or longer if it has been refrigerated overnight). Roll out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, shifting often on sheet and dusting with more flour as needed to keep from sticking, until about 3/8″ thick.
Punch out rounds with large cutter; punch out centers with smaller cutter. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. For my lazy method, instead of making all of the dough into “rings” I kept quite a few of the “holes” to have for smaller cookies. If you want to continue to make rings, pat scraps into disk, wrap, and chill 15 minutes.
Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon water; brush cookies with egg wash; sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Freeze 10 minutes. Bake, rotating sheets halfway though, until edges are golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool. Repeat with scraps and remaining egg wash and sanding sugar.
Do Ahead: Dough can be make 1 month ahead; freeze. Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.