Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr
32 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)

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.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step 2

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).

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Ratings & Reviews

Needs more liquid

December 14, 2015
Either brown the butter, then measure or add 4 T heavy cream to the dough at the end. Either way, the flavor is worth the effort. So yummy!!!

pollyjo28584's Review

December 23, 2013
Beating a dead horse about the crumbly dough....but quite true. I read the reviews after reading the recipe again to see what the heck I left out. The reviewers that suggested the 2 -3 tablespoons of heavy cream nailed it. The dough came together. We did not ice them only decorated with sprinkles and sanding sugars. The flavor is incredible....makes up for the frustration of the dough. 3 stars for flavor alone. I will make again with the adjustments.

Jami31's Review

December 13, 2013
I make this every year. I first saw it in the magazine several years ago and it consistently turns out great.

dearmrsreese's Review

December 21, 2012

ihavetofu's Review

December 22, 2011
This recipe is a disaster. The dough is dry and crumbly and impossible to work with. It seems to be lacking some liquid; Per the other reviewers suggestions, I added 2 tbsp heavy cream. This allowed the dough to come together, but it was still difficult to work with and it was not possible to cut the 2.5 inch stars and have them stay together. Very disappointing that Cooking Light would publish this recipe; even more disappointing that it remains unaltered on the website.

Fleurescent's Review

February 05, 2011
I hate when I come across a recipe I want to try and some of the reviews are favorable and some are not - I usually end up trying it anyway. I was really disappointed in this one - dough was crumbly and hard to work with - taste was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. Wouldn't make again. Too bad.

cjwollborg's Review

December 21, 2010
It seems to be missing some liquid. I kept checking the recipe to see if I made a mistake, it was so hard to roll out. Knead 7 times? I couldn't knead it at all. I had to have my husband roll the dough because I couldn't.

maddieh's Review

December 18, 2010
I just threw out this dough. I am an experienced baker and followed this recipe to a T. The dough was crumbly even though I beat until just combined. There was no way I could knead it, let alone roll it out to make cut out cookies. I've made many Cooking Light recipes and this is my first huge disappointment.

kickandsew's Review

December 15, 2010
My daughter made them last year and they were so good, I made them for a cookie exchange this year and got asked to share the recipe. The dough does not re-roll too well, but I picked uncomplicated cutter shapes and all went well. The only change I plan to make: trim the salt to 3/8 tsp next time... I also thinned the icing a bit with an additional Tblsp of 1/2 and 1/2 to spread more easily.

esbrown's Review

December 05, 2010
Amazing!!!! I love sugar cookies but dread the work (ie: rolling out, transferring them, etc.) but these were so easy. Followed the recipe exactly and was amazed how it handles. No chilling before working with it! And the flavor was divine:) Will make again and again. 12/21/13- This is my third holiday making this cookie and still LOVE it. I feel so bad for the people out there that can't seem to make it work.