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DO NOT preheat oven. Dough must chill before baking.

2 cups melted butter (4 sticks)
2 cups powdered sugar (not sifted)
1 cup white (granulated) sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (critical!)
1 teaspoon salt
4 ¼ cups flour (not sifted – pack it down when you measure it)
1/2 cup white sugar in a small bowl (for later)
Red and/or green decorator's sugar (optional)
Christmas candies (for later -- optional) *

Melt butter. Add sugars and mix. Let cool to room temperature and mix in the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla, lemon zest, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Mix well. Add flour in increments, mixing after each addition.

Chill dough for at least one hour. (Overnight is fine)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. and place rack in the middle of the oven.

Use hands to roll dough in walnut-sized balls. Roll dough balls in the bowl of sugar. (If you like, you can mix the white sugar 2 to 1 with colored decorators sugar – I usually have 2 bowls of sugar, one with red decorators sugar and the other with green decorators sugar. I alternate the bowls and make half red cookies and half green dough balls. You can also put a piece of soft Christmas candy on top of your cookies before baking. I use the mix with little colored Christmas trees, Santas, and other Christmas icons. Just don’t use anything that will melt when you bake the cookies.

Place the sugar-coated dough balls on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Flatten them slightly with your impeccably clean hand and then push the candy down in the middle of the ball.

Bake at 325 degrees F. for 10-15 minutes. (They should have a tinge of gold on the top.) Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Kids love these for Christmas classroom parties. So do teachers, because they’re not too messy.

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