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French Butter Cookies

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I posted a picture of these cookies on Facebook and some folks wanted the recipe. It’s from my first book, Bon Appetit, Y’all! I’ve never tried them with all butter; this is Mama’s recipe from my childhood, and you know, you just don’t mess with that. Enjoy! Best VA

French Butter Cookies

Author: Virginia Willis


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening preferably Crisco, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar sifted
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set aside. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating on low until well combined.
  • On low speed, slowly add the reserved dry ingredients. Beat until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until very firm, at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using an ice cream scoop or a melon baller, take some of the dough and shape it into small 1-inch balls. (Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator, as it must be kept chilled.) Place the dough balls on an ungreased baking sheet and press with the tines of a fork to flatten. Bake until pale golden, but not brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheet on a rack. Then, using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has made chocolate chip cookies with Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, and Julie Chrisley with her cooking -- but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Virginia is a chef instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen and author of Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome received a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence. She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network's Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude and approachable spirit. Learn more about Virginia and follow her traveling exploits at

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