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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’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” 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, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, 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, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

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