Best Ever Butter Cookie Cut-Out Goes to Harvard

Best Ever Butter Cookie Goes to Harvard
Best Ever Butter Cookie Goes to Harvard

One of my Girlfriends  lives “up the hill” from me.  She often sends me texts stating that  she’s headed “down the hill” for some butter cookies and tea…they are her favorite, especially when they are nicely brown.

Today, I’m making cookies for her amazing daughter Emma’s graduation party.  It’s not every day a girl gets into Harvard:)

Best Ever Butter Cut-Outs

* 2 cups butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 4 egg yolks
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt


My Mom always said…only use the BEST ingredients…so, naturally I only use Land O Lakes butter when baking.


…and 1 batch takes 1 lb…mmm, buttery.  (I’m actually making 4 today) Make sure the butter is nice and soft. I often set it out at night before I go to bed and then it’s ready to go in the morning.

Next, you’ll need to separate the eggs.  The recipe calls for yolks only.



Next, I like to sift the flour into a bowl and have it ready to go when needed.



Ok, so now we are ready to do some mixing.

Cream the Butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Then add the egg yolks and vanilla.

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Mix until combined.

Gradually add Flour (& salt that has been combined with flour)  Try not to over mix…just enough to blend.  When it’s done, place in a zip lock bag and refrigerate for about an hour.  If the dough is not first chilled, it will be too soft to roll out and cut.


Once firm, you can begin to roll and cut.


I like to use Powdered sugar on the surface I roll dough on instead of flour.  The reason for this is because as you roll and cut and then “re-roll” the scraps it will accumulate the sugar or flour you are using to keep it from sticking.  Too much flour makes for a dryer more tough cookie.  The sugar helps alleviate this problem.

The firmer the dough, the easier it is to cut and handle, though it will make it a little more difficult to “flatten” and roll out.  Cut half of your dough and place it on a “sugared” surface.  Use the palm of your hand to flatten enough to take over with your rolling pin.


Roll out so that you have an even thickness across all your dough. (about a 1/4 inch thick)

Cut out with desired cookie cutters. THIS BATCH IS GOING TO HARVARD…so H is the winner.


Next, take a small metal spatula to transfer cut dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  ( You don’t have to have parchment, but it guarantees they won’t stick, and you won’t have to clean your baking sheet!  Yay!


Place cut outs about 1 inch-inch apart and bake for about 15-17 minutes @350.  (If you have a friend up the hill, bake until very golden brown)


They really do taste best with a bit of a brown edge:)

Once they’re all baked and cooled, they are ready to be iced.

If you plan to stack them or package them as gifts, it’s best to use a Royal Icing.

ROYAL ICING (Run sugar)

6 oz (3/4 cup) of warm water
5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 kilogram (2.25 lbs.) powdered icing sugar
*I like to use 1 – 2 tsp. of almond extract to flavor.  You could also use vanilla, or even lemon.

Place Meringue Powder in mixing bowl with paddle attachment.

Add warm water and whisk by hand for 30 seconds.

Then add Cream of Tarter and whisk again for 30 seconds.

Add the whole 2 pound bag of powdered sugar and mix at lowest speed for 10 full minutes.


If it is thick, once the 10 minutes is up, you can thin with warm water to desired consistency.

( I do the 10 second test.  Pick up a spoonful and let it drip back into the bowl.  Watch as it hits the rest of the icing.  If it take 10 seconds to spread back out into the icing below it is good to go for piping the outline.)

I will thin just a bit more for the “flooding”.  This is the consistency used to fill in the outlined areas of the cookie.

Piping an outline first, will give you a nice finished edge, and prevent the icing from dripping over the edges.


For the flood color, I wanted a Harvard Crimson.  This can be a frustration, due to the need for RED.  RED food coloring has a horrible taste.  After many tries of nasty tasting red icing, and much research online, I have found that AMERICOLOR TULIP has no taste…hurrah!!  I used a combination of TULIP RED (it has bit more orange than I wanted) and AMERICOLOR SUPER RED to create the RED I was looking for.

SUPER RED is not suppose to have a taste, but I think it does.  (although it’s not as bad as all the other reds)

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Place several drops of Tulip Red and mix with a spoon.  Add more as needed to get desired color. ( I used about a 4:1 ratio of Tulip Red to Super Red + a tiny drop of black)

Best Ever Butter Cookie Goes to Harvard
Best Ever Butter Cookie Goes to Harvard

I also did an initial cookie for the graduate in her favorite color Pink:)


The whole recipe is below.  Hope you try them!  This recipe is great for Christmas Cut-outs, Fall Pumpkin Cookies, and Spring Flowers.

* 2 cups butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 4 egg yolks
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°.

With an electric mixer (even the hand-held kind), cream together the butter and the sugar.
Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix well.
Sift flour and salt together.
Beat into the butter mixture until well-mixed.
Chill at least  30-40 minutes.

When ready to bake, use an ungreased cookie sheet (or a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper) placing the cookies about 1 inch apart.
Bake @ 350 for about 15-17 minutes until slightly brown on edges.

Cool then decorate.

Run Sugar/ Royal Icing

6 oz (3/4 cup) of warm water
5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 kilogram (2.25 lbs.) powdered icing sugar

*** Note; if your meringue powder has no vanilla flavour (vanillin powder) in it, add a teaspoon of clear vanilla to this recipe.


In mixer bowl, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder. Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds.

Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.

Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.

Using the paddle attachment on the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy. (Add flavoring sometime during this 10 min)

Cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying.

Tint with food colourings or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency.

Spring Flowers:)

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2 thoughts on “Best Ever Butter Cookie Cut-Out Goes to Harvard

  1. I have this have this same cookie recipe and have made them for many years. They are my families favorite. I will have to try your icing recipe next time I make them!

    1. I love that!! What do you ice yours with? Thanks for stopping by! I’m a new blogger and you have made the first “comment” Thanks!! I’m heading over to visit you:)

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