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One simple dough. One perfectly balanced, delectable butter cookie dough is all you need to produce dozens of distinctly different but equally delicious freshly baked cookies. If you were to strip away the different flavors and textures from many of the classic cookies around the world, you would be left with a basic butter cookie. The first to disappear from a holiday sampler, and devoured by the pound from those blue Danish cookie tins, the butter cookie is a universal favorite. Now here is a way to start with that simple dough, and with it create new classics by the dozens that are suitable for everything from silver trays to lunch boxes.
Start with one large master batch of butter cookie dough, and divide it in half. Each recipe that follows calls for one half of the Master Dough. Stir lime zest and almonds into one half, form into sticks, and coat with sugared almonds for a sophisticated petit four. Into the other half stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, and egg whites for Good, Old-fashioned Chocolate-Chip Cookies, and you've thrilled your dinner guests and your children at the same time. Only want to make one cookie? Then chill or freeze the remaining dough for another time.
What better time for simplified baking than during the hectic holidays? In a quick, organized fashion you can produce beautiful platters of assorted cookies without having to start from scratch each time. Have them on hand (for months in the freezer) for last-minute holiday or hostess gifts. Maybe the most amazing part of this trick is that the cookies taste and look completely different from each other. No one will suspect you've taken a shortcut.
This is also a fun way to cook with children. Batchesof dough can be made ahead of time and each child can choose the flavors and shapes to make their own unique cookies.
Once you start, you'll want to make more and more all of the time!