While I'll know you'll find bunches of ways to use this dough—its full vanilla flavor and mix of crisp and sandy texture are chameleon-like in their capacity to welcome other flavors and shapes—there are four recipes in this collection to start your imagination spinning: White Chocolate and Poppyseed Cookies, Double Ginger Crumb Cookies, Vanilla Polka Dots, and Christmas Spice Cookies. —Dorie Greenspan
Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt together on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the egg whites, followed by the vanilla. The dough might curdle, but it will smooth out with mixing and the addition of the flour.
Still working on low speed, add the flour in 3 to 4 additions, beating only until it is almost incorporated each time before adding more; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times as you work and then continue to mix until the flour has disappeared into the dough.
The dough is ready to be divided (if needed) and scooped or rolled. See my book for suggestions.
Or if you'd like to make plain cookies, divide the dough into quarters and shape each piece into a disk. Working with one disk at a time, place the dough between pieces of parchment paper and roll it to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Slide the dough, still between the paper, onto a baking sheet—you can stack the slabs—and freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To bake, position the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds, and heat to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silicone mats.
Working with one disc at a time, peel away the paper on both sides of the dough and return the dough to one piece of paper. Use a 2-inch-diameter cookie cutter (change the size, knowing that the yield will change with it) to cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the lined baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Gather the scraps together, then combine with scraps from the other piece of dough, re-roll, and chill before cutting and baking. If you'd like to sprinkle the cut-outs with sanding sugar, now's the time.
Bake the cookies for 19 to 21 minutes, rotating the sheets from front to back and top to bottom at the 10-minute mark, until they are golden brown around the edges and on the bottom. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool completely. If you'd like to ice the cookies, do it when they're completely cool.
Called a “culinary guru” by the New York Times and inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, Dorie Greenspan is the author of 13 cookbooks, her latest is Everyday Dorie. Some of her other bestselling cookbooks include Dorie's Cookies, Baking Chez Moi, Around My French Table and Baking From My Home to Yours.