With nutty, caramel notes from browned butter and a fair bit of salt to balance the flavors, these cookies will become an instant favorite. You can roll out the dough right after combining all the ingredients—no chilling required. Look for pearlized sugar in gourmet markets or craft stores; the coarse crystals reflect light to give the cookies a sparkly, jewel-like appearance.
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
8 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup pearlized sugar or turbinado sugar
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; cook 6 minutes or until dark brown. Pour butter into a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add egg yolks, and beat at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute).
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead gently 7 times. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter into 32 cookies; reroll scraps as necessary. Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies completely on wire racks.
Combine powdered sugar, half-and-half, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring with a whisk until icing is smooth. Spoon about 3/4 teaspoon icing onto each cookie; spread to edges. While icing is wet, sprinkle each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon pearlized sugar. Dry on wire racks.