Vanilla Bean Icebox Cookies
Vanilla Bean Icebox Cookies PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

Christmas is our favorite time of year for many reasons. For starters, 'tis the season for baking cookies. This year, try these easy vanilla bean icebox cookies. The beauty here is that you can make the dough ahead of time and bake whenever.

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Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Start to Finish: 4 hours (includes chilling time)

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

⅓ cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 egg

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Coarse sanding sugar, as needed for finishing (optional)

Directions

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter with the sugar and scraped vanilla bean seeds until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the egg and mix until combined, 1 minute more. Add the flour and salt, and mix until fully incorporated.

3. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of a baking sheet. Place the dough on the long side of the paper. The dough will be sticky, so use the paper to help you roll it into a rounded log shape, about 17 to 19 inches long (which is about the length of a baking sheet) and 1½ inches wide.

4. Once you've formed a log, make sure the dough is completely wrapped in the parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (Note: The dough can be frozen at this point for up to three months.)

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Remove the log from the paper and pour some sanding sugar onto the parchment. Roll the chilled log in the sugar to coat the outside completely.

7. Slice the log of cookie dough into ¼-inch-thick slices and transfer to the baking sheets. Leave at least ¾ inch around each cookie to allow room for spreading.

8. Bake the cookies until they are slightly golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

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